Youth have their say on the here and now, and tomorrow
From its beginnings, the Trust has recognized that youth are essential to the future of the Basin and are eager to make their voices heard. They also have specific challenges, from education and employment to transportation and discrimination.
The Trust started its first program for youth in 1999 and has been evolving its relationships and supports for youth ever since. This has included Basin-wide forums, a youth-run magazine (Scratch), grants for youth-led projects, funds that communities and the youth themselves could use according to their priorities, and oversight of a network that helps communities increase activities and opportunities for youth.
From early in this millennium until 2016, the Trust also formally took advice from youth. Dozens of youth aged 15 to 29 lent their voices and perspectives through its Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), plus reviewed youth grant applications, developed leadership and other skills, and met a range of Basin youth.
Here’s what a few of these “YACers” gained from the experience and where they are now:
“It was phenomenal being a part of the Scratch magazine editorial process. I was empowered that my thoughts and ideas mattered.” – Andra Louie, a YACer from Invermere in 2001 and 2002, now lives in Kimberley, works for a literacy organization and is a student at the University of Victoria.
“YAC showed me the value of giving my time and energy for a greater purpose. Youth leadership opportunities are priceless.” – Danika Bellevance, a YACer from Cranbrook from 2012 to 2014, now works in Cranbrook for the Trust.
“Participating in YAC was an empowering experience that grew my confidence; this has been especially important in everything I’ve taken on since. I really believe in the power of youth sharing their voices, opinions and perspectives.” – Emma Borhi, a YACer from Nelson from 2014 to 2016, is now a student at the University of British Columbia.
“The most valuable part of being a YAC member was meeting and collaborating with incredible people. Also, I gained confidence to challenge my comfort zone.” – Melissa Koftinoff, a YACer from Nakusp from 2005 to 2010, now works at Nakusp’s museum and library.
“YAC helped me learn really strong networking skills and pushed me out of my comfort zone socially. It helped me gain confidence to go out in the world, to meet people and pitch myself.” – Taryn Walker, a YACer from Revelstoke from 2011 to 2014, now lives in Edmonton and works as an artist and in communications.