Libby’s urges Minister Duncan to reinstate funding for Aboriginal youth programs

July 6, 2012

Hon. John Duncan

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0A6

Dear Minister,

RE: Funding Cuts to the Cultural Connections to Aboriginal Youth (CCAY) Program

We are writing to respectfully request that your office re-instate the funding to the CCAY program as soon as possible. Moreover, we would urge that funding be granted on a multi-year basis.

We have been contacted by both constituents and agencies who explained to us the devastating effects of these cuts. In the area of Metro Vancouver, 14 vital programs that have been successful in providing intervention and prevention programs for Aboriginal youth have been forced to shut down due to the cancelled funds.

These programs played a critical role in serving the youth and the community at large. They have been overwhelmingly successful in diverting youth from potential risks, and fostering leadership.

We know that we agree that many urban Aboriginal youth are at risk. They face multiple challenges, and need the resources to overcome them. Poverty, discrimination, lack of education, unemployment and homelessness are real issues facing many youth. This creates an environment of few opportunities.

It is critical to ensure that there is a secure environment to develop stability, confidence and leadership, which would ultimately lead to accomplishments, employability and attachment to the community. The CCAY program was invaluable in this respect and provided a culturally appropriate setting for youth to enjoy social, spiritual, artistic, recreational and educational activities that have been successful in diverting youth from social welfare and criminal justice programs. In short, it helped youth to overcome multiple barriers, develop life skills and give them the all important, life-changing chance to realize their potential.

Urban Aboriginal youth is one of the fastest growing demographic groups in British Columbia, and they are a vital part of our region’s and our country’s future economic growth. We are strong believers that a program like CCAY addresses the urgent needs facing them.

The CCAY is an important economic and social investment, and we urge your immediate support for the CCAY’s long term existence. We believe that the renewal of this excellent program would demonstrate your department’s commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal people in our urban communities.

Yours Sincerely,

Libby Davies, MP (Vancouver East) & Jean Crowder, MP (Nanaimo Cowichan), NDP Spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs