Hon. David Emerson
Senior Minister for BC
Hon. Chuck Strahl
Indian Affairs and Northern Development
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
RE: Native Youth Centre Project, Vancouver, BC
Once again I am writing, as I have been for the last 3 years, to urge federal government support for a native youth centre in Vancouver. I bring to your particular attention a January 16th article in the Vancouver Sun about newly released 2006 census results, which highlight the rapid increase in the aboriginal youth population in urban centres, and the lack of resources which they must endure. I believe that a native youth centre will play a fundamental role in addressing this serious issue.
I know that we agree that urban aboriginal youth are considered to be at great risk. Indeed, the article highlights what we already know: they face multiple challenges, but do not have the resources to overcome them. Aboriginal youth face poverty and its attendant harsh, and sometimes tragic, consequences of poor health, unemployment and homelessness. This creates an environment of few opportunities when non-aboriginal youth typically enjoy security and a sense of hope. Exacerbating this picture is a dearth of opportunities and resources to meet these challenges.
As I have stated in the past, I believe that a native youth centre would be a vital resource to help reverse this trend, and allow youth to enjoy a secure environment to develop stability, confidence and leadership, which would ultimately lead to opportunities for training and employment skills. Moreover, the centre would provide a culturally appropriate setting for youth to enjoy social, spiritual, artistic, recreational and educational activities.
A central, "one-stop" facility would provide efficiency - and synchronicity - of resources, programs and services, these being currently dispersed and often delivered disjointedly.
Lastly, the Urban Native Youth Association, which is sponsoring the project, has been successful in securing support from the municipal and provincial governments, the Assembly of First Nations, the community and private sector. And I now respectfully urge the federal government to finally come on board and make this project its highest priority. It would be a stellar demonstration of your government's commitment to safety, security, opportunity and hope for not only urban aboriginal youth, but also the community at large.
M.P. Vancouver East
Deputy Leader & House Leader, NDP