As 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to look back and reflect on what we, as the Canada Bridges community, have accomplished this year. There are many words that come to mind when I try to describe what the year has meant for us, but the following three stand out as important characteristics of our hearts, minds and actions.
This year we have worked directly with over 130 youth and young adults who are becoming change leaders in their communities. From starting post-secondary education to determining what career path they will follow, and from sharing their voices and visions to inspire those around them to developing initiatives to support other youth in their communities, the leaps of leadership we have witnessed have been many and varied. Highlights of the year include:
- Supporting the development of career plans and personal visions for over 30 youth through our continued partnership with the Siksika Meaningful Futures Program, co-facilitated by Siksika Employment and Training Services.
- Trevor Solway and an amazing team of young professionals lead our 3rd annual film camp for youth from across Treaty 7 this July to write, direct, act and create “The Rotten” – a film examining the issues of healthy eating, sustainability and internet reliability. Visit our youtube channel to check it out for yourself!
- Seven youth whom Canada Bridges has worked with and supported started post- secondary school in September and have been matched with Calgary-based mentors to help them thrive through this important transition, and are about to complete their first semester!
- The Stoney Nakoda Youth Council participated as thought leaders at the Banff Centre’s Truth and Reconciliation Summit in October, bringing a youth perspective and local representation to the discussions.
And the list doesn’t stop there! Each and every action taken by these inspiring young people has renewed our commitment to unveiling the potential of youth and young adults as the brightest hope for the future of our communities.
We began the year with a freshly developed strategic direction, which we have worked hard to put into practice over the past year. While the heart of our work always remains focused on supporting the youth and young adults in our communities, this strategy challenges us to also consider the roles we can play in bringing awareness to barriers and even contributing to their removal, connecting different aspects of our network, and sharing our learning to challenge systems that might hold youth back from reaching their potential. Developing new partnerships with other thought leaders in this space is invaluable as we work to build the evaluation, communication and learning systems to support this work.
There has also been transition within our team. In the spring, Lindsay Mitchell’s inspired leadership transitioned into a Board of Directors role as I stepped into the position of Executive Director. We also welcomed Jill Salus to our Board of Directors, who brings a wealth of community relations experience to the organization. The newest staff addition to our team, Alison Stalker, joined us at the end of September 2016, and has been a valuable asset to our facilitation and programming teams. I encourage everyone to reach out and meet these individuals, and share with them your thoughts, interests and ideas!
In their most basic function, bridges really are about connection, and our work has always been based in people who care about and connect with the potential they see in each other. It has been a pleasure to get to know so many partners, friends, allies and supporters this year who believe in and care about the work we do and see the potential we have to work together and learn from each other.
Despite the challenging times in Southern Alberta right now, we are ending the year confidently, thanks to many of our returning and several new financial support partners who have come on board this year, including as well as numerous personal donations and pledges. We greatly appreciate their belief and support in what we are trying to achieve. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has walked alongside us this year – from the communities we work in, our program partners and most importantly the youth and young adults who we have had the opportunity to work with.
We wish you all the best for the remainder of 2016 and the holiday season. We are excited for 2017, for another year with amazing youth and young adults taking on leadership roles in their communities and look forward to continuing to connect with all of you as we go forward together on this journey.
May you be blessed this holiday season, and in the year to come!
Executive Director, Canada Bridges