An exciting new initiative has gotten off the ground in Dorchester that aims to empower and engage youth in their communities while also building cross-cultural awareness and relations.
The initiative, called the Cross-Cultural Youth Project (CCYP), was launched this spring and is offering Maritime youth, ages 15 to 30, access to civic service opportunities that will enable them to make a difference in their communities while gaining valuable life and work experience.
Jessica Wall, program director for CCYP, said the idea behind the project is to build community and nurture stronger collaborative relationships among First Nations, Francophone and Anglophone youth through engagement and civic service.
She said about 50 youth will be recruited for the project, who will gain valuable skills throughout the year by volunteering for at least 120 hours.
“Each youth gets matched up with a youth program coordinator and they develop their own civic service plan,” said Wall.
She said the youth will have the opportunity to develop their passions by setting their own personal and professional goals they’d like to work on in their civic service plan.
Volunteer hours can be divided up between working with the various community partners, meeting with mentors or attending workshops, planning their own self-directed project, and taking part in the various activities and programs happening at the CCYP site in Dorchester.
She said a variety of events are being planned to bring the youth together, from paint nights to yoga sessions, from gardening sessions to field trips. The hope is to get a “diverse group of youth with different perspectives in the room.”
“I think the more we gain understanding in a less formal setting, we can just build authentic relationships by attending potlucks or by coming to an art night,” said Wall. “Just getting to know one another, we can build stronger relationships that are more peaceful and harmonious moving forward and that will foster stronger communities.”
The Cooperative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick is leading the project, with the help of more than 40 community partners across the province and over $400,000 in funding from the federal government’s Canada Service Corps program. The partners to come on board include Mount Allison University, Universite de Moncton, Community Forests International, Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, Greater Dorchester Moving Forward Co-op, Open Sky Co-op, Sackville Schools 2020, EOS Eco-Energy, the New Brunswick Filmmakers’ co-op, Festival Inspire, among many others.
Wall believes youth will greatly benefit from this Cross-Cultural Youth Project.
“It will benefit them through being more connected to the organizations and their neighbours in general by getting more involved in their community,” she said. “And it will benefit them by having stronger relationships and networks with other peers their age across the province, so if they ever wanted to explore other opportunities down the road, I think more doors would be open. And (it will benefit) by just having greater understanding of our cultures and being able to celebrate them with one another.”
Wall said over the past several years, CECNB has been hearing from its members and community partners from across New Brunswick and Canada about the need and value for a cross-cultural youth program such as this.
When the grant from Canada Service Corps came up, CECNB was approached by one of its members, the Greater Dorchester Moving Forward Cooperative, to ask if it would consider hosting a proposal to develop a tri-cultural learning centre, aimed at developing stronger ties between the Memramcook, Dorchester and Fort Folly communities.
CECNB, however, wanted to take a broader approach and discussed the idea of developing a project that would have a larger reach, extending to other communities throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The proposal was approved this past March, with a 13-month term to be tested out for the project.
Wall said part of the pilot will be to explore the need for a permanent centre and what type of programs the youth want for this type of initiative to work.
“So we’re just kind of trying to provide the bones, the bare minimum structure, and then have the youth really put their input into what this becomes.”
Interested in getting involved?
•Get in touch
If you are between the ages of 15 and 30 and think this is something you’d be interested in, start by filling out the online form, detailing your experience and personal interests.
•Make a plan
One of CCYP’s program coordinators will get in touch with you to discuss your goals and interests. They’ll work with you to help plan out your 120 hours of participation.
•Get a mentor
Youth can identify a mentor of their preference or be matched with a mentor from CCYP’s list of partners. Mentors will take on the role of advising the participant over the course of the program.
Youth will be encouraged to participate in a range of events including some core programming organized by staff, as well as community events that fit into the project’s mission. Youth can also talk to program coordinators about organizing their own events with other participants
•Resources and support
CCYP staff will check in with youth on a regular basis throughout the duration of the program, ensuring that youth are being fully supported. Youth will be provided with resources assisting with travel, dependent care, conference costs, and other eligible expenses.