INDIGENOUS YOUTH OF TORONTO NEED YOUR SUPPORT
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Indigenous community members, we are asking for your support as the Indigenous youth of Toronto face an important challenge. We ask you to please read this message from us, and to sign our petition to the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto (NCCT) at the end of this message.
We are the ENAGB (“Eshkiniigjik Naandwechigegamig, Aabiish Gaa Binjibaaying, A Place for Healing Our Youth, Where Did We Come From”) Indigenous Youth Agency www.enagb-iya.ca . Our story began several years ago as the ENAGB Youth Program based at the NCCT. Over the years the Program grew to be very successful, with the leadership of the ENAGB Youth Program Manager, other staff, Indigenous youth including the ENAGB Youth Council. The services offered to Indigenous youth through this program have been very important.
The youth who use and led the ENAGB Program have valued the support of the NCCT. However, it has always been their dream, vision, and intention that ENAGB would become its own independent agency. In 2018 we finally began doing this, including by becoming our own charitable organization under the leadership of our Executive Director, our Board (which is 50% Indigenous youth) and the ENAGB Youth Council.
We took all of these steps with the knowledge and support of the NCCT, on the understanding that we would continue to work together and share space and resources in a good way until ENAGB could raise enough money for our own building and that our funding, programming, and staff could transition to the Agency. This has been exciting for the Indigenous youth, as it has seemed like their long-time vision is finally coming true.
However, things have recently taken a distressing turn, as the NCCT seems to have abruptly withdrawn its support for the ENAGB Youth Agency, and now seems to be treating us as a competitor or enemy, rather than a partner. They have said and done several hostile things since this April, all without any meaningful discussion or consultation.
We do not understand why this has happened. NCCT will only refer to unknown “unresolved challenges” and have said that our youth do not have the “wisdom” to be independent. We are concerned that the NCCT may be trying to undermine ENAGB Youth Agency so that we do not become a competitor for funding. This is not in the best interest of our youth.
We have repeatedly tried to reach out to the NCCT to repair our relationship and support ENAGB’s transition to independence. We have emphasized that we want to resolve this situation using principles of traditional governance, and that we must show respect for our youth as one of the most vital aspects of our bundle as a community. We have requested that our two Boards meet together, with a mediator present to help us.
Unfortunately, NCCT has told us that they are “not interested in having a relationship” with our Agency and has refused our invitation to meet.
The Indigenous youth who have supported ENAGB Youth Agency have felt shocked, betrayed, and upset by this response, which they feel shows a lack of respect and care for us.
NCCT and ENAGB Youth Agency are accountable to the Indigenous communities we serve. We are calling on community members now to make your voices heard in a helpful way, by supporting our petition to the Board of the NCCT asking them to meet with us.
If you want to contact the Board of NCCT about this directly, you can email them at Larry.Frost@ncct.on.ca or President@ncct.on.ca
Please note that if you sign this petition, we may contact you again if ENAGB Youth Agency needs further support. If you do not want us to contact you again, please put an “X” beside your name on the petition.
Miigwetch, Niá:wen, Thank you for your support. https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/eshkiniigjik-naandwechigegamig-aabiish-gaa-binjibaaying-enagb-youth-program/
To the Board of Directors of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto:
I, the undersigned member of the Indigenous community, support the Indigenous youth of Toronto in their effort to establish their own autonomous organization to serve their needs, the ENAGB Youth Agency. I have learned about NCCT’s recent withdrawal of support for ENAGB Youth Agency, and I do not believe this situation is good for our youth’s wellbeing. I call on you to show them respect by meeting with the ENAGB Youth Agency’s Board and Youth Council very soon, and by making good faith efforts to resolve the conflict between your organizations in a way that unites our community, and does not divide it.
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