Elizabeth introduced Rebecca Rolfe to the club this morning. Rebecca describes herself as a settler woman who became involved with Focus Forward For Indigenous Youth (FFFIY) soon after it was founded in 2017, starting as a volunteer then transitioning to one of the first two paid staff members. Rebecca holds a B.A. and M.A. from Queen’s
  • FFFIY is a national charity working in Indigenous communities on projects that empower youth and provide employment.
  • In 2017 and 2018 they executed successful pilot projects, then received organizational funding in 2020.
  • This funding allowed them to increase their reach, and they have 3 new projects.
  • Pilot #1 was in Montreal Lake Cree Nation – a four season solar powered greenhouse.
  • Vision – bring families together, build inter-generational knowledge.
  • Students earned experience, high school credits, and were paid as they built the greenhouse.
  • Pilot #2 – greenhouse in Wiikwemkoong, on Manitoulin Island. Solar and biomass powered.
  • Again, students gained experience as they built the greenhouse, including solar installation experience.
  • CK Rotary was involved in both projects.
  • Starting in 2020 funding has allowed FFFIY to move to the 2nd phase of both projects, focusing on food security, and running a virtual employment readiness program and workshops with help from Jays Care Foundation. There are many facets to the new work on these projects.
  • The youth help identify the initiatives that they work on in their communities.
  • Also included are mental health programs and a program to help build the confidence of indigenous young women.
  • The youth are so happy to be building something in and for their community.
  • These projects received attention from APTN National News!
Robert Reid – a reminder that CK Rotary donated to both projects, with help from Napanee and Kingston, and 4 clubs in Saskatchewan
John Gale – do you work in urban centres? Yes, we did a smaller project here in Kingston – building a birch bark canoe. There is also an upcoming project in the city of Thunder Bay.
Bill Egnatoff – can you comment on the gender mix? 25% in the Montreal Lake project, and almost 50% in Manitoulin Island. Many of the young women were very interested in STEM which was also gratifying.
Robert Reid – what does the new government funding cover? Salaries, programming, and funds for removing barriers to participating in the programs. But we still need to raise funds for the capital expenses of the projects.
Lesley Friese – are there STEM and trades classes available in the schools? Yes, although some are ahead of others. We also work with local trades to help build connections. And we need high speed internet in all communities – it’s a real barrier to participation. We may want to offer a tech bursary to help.
Rebecca was thanked by Greta – you have achieved so much in a short time. You have empowered and given ownership to youth, which is marvelous!
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