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.

Pathways to Indigenous Youth Leadership Program – International Aboriginal Youth Internships (IAYI)


Canada World Youth is launching its fifth edition of Pathways to Indigenous Youth Leadership Program, a 6-month international development internship, including 4 months in Peru.  Through participation in overseas development projects, and access to training and mentorship, participants will increase their capacity to address international development issues overseas and in their own communities while exploring educational and employment opportunities.

2017IAYI2017 IAYI participants in Colombia.

The following costs are covered by the program:

  • Travel, food and accommodation costs related to the internship
  • Out of country emergency medical insurance for the duration of the volunteer contracts
  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Vaccinations
  • Local project-related transportation
  • Monthly pocket money allowance
  • Spanish language classes

For the 2020-21 Edition, CWY is recruiting 34 Canadian Indigenous Youth between 18 to 26 years old who have completed high school but have not completed post-secondary studies and are available for six months. Due to COVID-19, some of our recruitment dates have been pushed back this year. For more information or to stay in contact, please email us at .

Find out how McKenzie Dorn’s incredible experience as an intern in Sogamoso, Columbia, has changed his life for the better:







Canada World Youth’s Pathways to Indigenous Youth Leadership Program is funded by Global Affairs Canada’s International Aboriginal Youth Internship Initiative.

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 47 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 internships, the United Nations seminar, overseas exchanges, and youth forums.


The United Nations seminar provides Indigenous youth with an annual opportunity 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 globally. The seminar gives Indigenous youth the opportunity to learn by experiencing firsthand, key United Nations events such as the annual Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) meeting. Each participant is required to conduct research on issues/themes of interest and prepare a paper.  A presentation of the paper is done by the youth in a public forum and/or is published and will be reviewed by peers.

Over the years, Canada World Youth has sent several Indigenous youths from across Canada to United Nations to learn amongst their peers. Partnerships with various organizations allow a selection of youth to attend as delegates.

The 17th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues took place in New York City from April 16 to 27m 2018. Find out more about the Canada World Youth Indigenous Youth that participated.

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


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.


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 can 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 Events Coordinator, Vanessa Ferreira-Valente, at or 1-800-605-3526 ext. 338 who will connect you with an alumnus near you.


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