The job of a youth is to become an Elder. Youth are leaders in training because they are already role models. The job of a youth is not to be a student (school is a bridge, not a destination), nor is it to be a consumer (to be entertained). Before colonization, youth played essential roles in the community; they were: teachers (showing those younger how to live in a good way), protectors (nurturing those who were weak or in distress and standing up for those mistreated), and providers (of opportunities).
For too long youth have been told they are the future, but they have not been given a role in making the future a reality. For too long they have been told that the Traditions will guide them, but not given the opportunity to play Traditional (meaningful) roles in the community. The Youth Leadership-Mentor Program is designed to assist Aboriginal youth to take on their Traditional leadership and mentorship roles. It does this in 3 steps:
- Older youth (19-24 years old) will receive a 5-day Leadership Training Program that will offer an opportunity for them to become leaders in their own lives and leaders in their community. They will receive specific training that will allow them to themselves become trainers of younger youth (13-18 years old). By facilitating the 2-day Mentorship Workshop—using exercises they do in the Leadership Training–the Leaders will transition from being students to teachers.
- Younger youth (13-18 years old) will receive the Mentorship Training Program that will offer an opportunity for them to become protectors of and providers of resilience to older children (9-12 years old).
- The older children (9-12 years old) will receive caring connection and respectful empowerment opportunities from the younger youth in their community and they will look forward to their opportunity to learn how to become Mentors and eventually to become Leaders in their turn.
This is true capacity building.