Programs for Indigenous Youth

What are your options?

CWY coordinates programs specifically created for Indigenous Youth volunteers to help increase their leadership and employability skills.

Indigenous Youth Leadership Program

All CWY programs are open to Canada’s Indigenous youth. CWY also offers programs specifically designed for Indigenous youth, including some that involve living and working with Indigenous communities in other countries, with the support of CWY’s international and Canadian partners.

The Indigenous Youth Leadership Program builds on the core components of CWY’s youth programming model that has existed for 43 years. It is an asset-based program centered on Indigenous knowledge and culture and delivered in partnership with Indigenous communities.

The Indigenous Youth Leadership Program consists of intensive experiential learning opportunities aimed at providing participants with the knowledge, skills and strategies necessary to prepare them to pursue academic goals and employment and to become catalysts for change through community development and multilateral cooperation regionally, nationally and internationally.

The four pillars of the program include overseas exchanges, youth forums, internships and the United Nations seminars.

  1. The International Aboriginal Youth Internships sent 20 interns over the past two years in four communities in Colombia. This initiative was intended to:
    • Provide valuable work experience for Indigenous youth, raising their employability and/or empowering youth to further their education post-internship;
    • Provide opportunities for Indigenous youth to increase their awareness of, and contribution to, Canada’s international development efforts through participation in youth internships with local partner organizations; and
    • Build the capacity of Indigenous youth to promote Canada’s international development efforts both in Canada and abroad.

    2017 IAYI participants in Colombia
    2017 IAYI participants in Colombia

  2. Youth exchanges are developed in partnership with international and Canadian partners. These exchanges vary in length and are planned in advance with Indigenous communities and organizations. The educational approach in exchanges provides an intensive hands-on, self-directed learning in a semi-structured environment and facilitates active participation of youth in all stages of the experience and learning process.
  3. The United Nations seminar will provide Indigenous youth with an annual opportunity for Indigenous youth to increase their knowledge on the United Nations programs, mechanisms and bodies; Canada’s role at the UN; and the Indigenous peoples participation in the UN systems. Each seminar begins with skills training on the United Nations, Indigenous peoples and key issues/priorities affecting Indigenous peoples. The seminar includes additional learning and hands-on experiences with key United Nations events such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples annual meeting. Each participant is required to conduct research on issues/themes of interest and prepare a paper to be reviewed by peers. A presentation of the paper is done by the youth in a public forum and/or is published.

    Cohorte de 2017 à l’UNPFII, à New York
    2017 cohort at UNPFII in New York City

  4. Youth forums provide training opportunities and workshops in a conference setting on issues and themes affecting Indigenous youth. The forum is also a gathering of youth to discuss and participate in learning activities and is supported by experts within a given field. The forum is an opportunity for youth to work together in dialogue to shape and direct issues and themes important to Indigenous youth and establish networks of mutual interest and support.

    CWY Parents

Who can participate?

As an Indigenous youth from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities between the ages of 17 and 35, you are welcome to apply to any of our programs. All of them have different criteria for age, language skills and time commitment. Visit each program section to find out more.

Programs for Aboriginal YouthYou can connect with CWY Indigenous Alumni
Over the last 40 years, hundreds of Indigenous youth from communities across Canada have participated in CWY’s unique leadership programs. Want to know more about their experience?

We encourage you to take a look at video and written testimonials from our Indigenous alumni.

We can also connect you directly with CWY alumni who can share their experiences with you. They will be able to tell you more about leaving their community and their time on the program as well as support you through our application process. Contact our Alumni and Volunteer Coordinator, Elizabeth Drouin, at or 1-800-605-3526 ext. 338 who will connect you with an alumnus near you.


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