Centre for Intercultural Learning and the Aboriginal Youth Internship

International Aboriginal Youth Internship (IAYI) Coordinator Workshop participants with Centre for Intercultural Learning and Canadian International Development Agency representatives.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) recently launched the International Aboriginal Youth Internship (IAYI) and selected eight organizations to manage and deliver the first round of internships. Given the importance of this new initiative and the challenges of implementing youth-sending programs, CIDA requested the assistance of the Centre for Intercultural Learning (CIL) to develop a training workshop for intern coordinators prior to rollout.

CIL learning advisors began by doing a needs analysis of the eight organizations' knowledge and experience working with Aboriginal youth. Organizations expressed great interest in attending the three-day workshop and welcomed the opportunity to clarify key issues around implementation and share good practices with one another.

The IAYI Coordinator Workshop was intended to build coordinator capacity to support IAYI interns. In its design, it tackled a number of dimensions emerging from discussions with CIDA and from the results of the needs analysis, including:

  • Integrating traditional Aboriginal teaching methods;
  • Enabling an environment to exchange ideas, facilitate discussion and share good practices;
  • Clarifying CIDA programming and  operational requirements;
  • Ensuring that learning objectives are met within the given timeframe.

The first two days of the workshop were designed to clarify administrative and program issues for coordinators and to fill knowledge gaps related to working with Aboriginal youth. This promoted the sharing of current good practices and explored how to adapt these practices for the IAYI initiative. Led by CIL facilitators, an Anishnawbe elder and other Aboriginal resource persons, the workshop featured presentations, question and answer sessions, simulations, and the decoding of critical incidents.

"Aboriginal resource people were great; really appreciated the chance to ask questions of CIDA and discuss strategies… I liked the openness of discussions."
Comments from an IAYI workshop participant.

The participants' high level of engagement and contribution reflected the challenges and particular considerations involved in supporting  and working with Aboriginal youth. Group dynamics and evaluations indicated that participants had met their own objectives and that the experience had been a positive one.

The IAYI Coordinator Workshop gave CIL valuable context on the IAYI initiative and, more importantly, provided insights on the dynamics involved in facilitating learning for Aboriginal learners and working with Aboriginal elders.

"The workshop helped build networks, bring focus to the Aboriginal youth interns at the heart of the program, and set the tone for a supportive, collaborative experience for all involved."
Heather MacKinnon, CIL Learning Advisor on the IAYI Coordinator Workshop.

Contact the Centre for Intercultural Learning to learn more: cultures@international.gc.ca