Our mentorship program is for Indigenous youth, age 18-30, who have moved to Mohkinstsis/Wichispa Oyade/Guts’ists’i” (Calgary) to pursue their educational and employment goals. A key goal of the program is to surround these young people with a network of caring adults as they experience new opportunities, challenges, encounter systemic barriers, and accomplish their goals and/or come up with new ones. Our guiding philosophy here is that all youth and young adults have tremendous potential to achieve great things and that this will look unique for each and every one of them.
This initiative facilitates the building and strengthening of developmental relationships between young adults and adult mentors to support each young person in realizing their own potential, as defined by themselves in the context of the communities around them, not an externally prescribed outcome or path. In addition to expressing care, encouraging growth, and providing support, mentors allow young people to feel welcome in the city, help them navigate urban systems and environments, and build connections to relevant supports.
“As a mentee, I felt I didn’t have anyone to talk to in the city at first but because I was part of the mentorship program, I had someone to talk to…it’s isolating at first when you come to the city…I feel like the mentorship program opened a few doors for me. If I arrived at the city and wasn’t part of the mentorship program, I feel I would be a different person, more closed off, and still going through culture shock. It basically helps people deal with culture shock in a way.”
– program participant
While we do offer all participants a connection to a mentor, program participants can also attend our monthly hangouts and choose not to be matched with a mentor. Time and time again, we hear from mentors and young leaders alike that their favourite part of the program is attending these group hangouts. The hangouts are offered on a monthly basis at a minimum and provide a positive space to try new things, explore the city and other organizations, and build community.
“I like the events offered by the program. It's nice to get a break and meet friendly people with wholesome events. Staying in the city is somewhat quiet and boring, and party life is not for me… One main thing the program helped me realized, is that I should be more open with who I am. I had a bad habit of me closing myself off and isolating myself. Thanks to the program, I am working to fix these problems.”
– program participant