The 2017 Summit on Aboriginal Urban Youth Leadership Development took place in Montreal, Quebec between March 17-19, 2017. The event, organized by Sacred Fire Productions, featured conferences and workshops ranging from a panel about achieving social development through culture to accessible legal workshops exploring how to start a non-for-profit organization. The intention of the summit was to provide participants access to information about the social economy to spark creativity, collaboration and positive leadership, in addition to generating exposure for Indigenous artists.
Karina Kesserwan is a lawyer and strategic advisor who presented on how to start and manage a non-profit at the 2017 Summit on Aboriginal Urban Youth Leadership Development. We spoke to her about her thoughts on the role Indigenous youth can play in the social economy, working within their communities to foster greater social support, inclusion and connectedness.
Why do you feel it is important to encourage Indigenous youth to become involved in the nonprofit sector/social economy?
A lot of Indigenous youth are already involved in these sectors. I know a lot of young people who have founded their own non-profits or sit on numerous boards of other organizations. Sometimes, however, they need more practical tools to be help them reach their objectives. For example, a lot of boards of directors don’t provide training for new board members. Also, starting your own non-profit can be intimidating. My goal is to provide simple tools to help young social entrepreneurs and directors to work towards their objectives.
How do you feel a forum addressing the social economy and social change can contribute to reconciliation efforts?
Equal economic opportunities are an important part of reconciliation. A lot of young indigenous people are very entrepreneurial. Social economy is a recognized tool for social change as social enterprises focus on people and communities rather than only aiming to generate profits.
How do you think promoting leadership and social engagement to Indigenous youth can help to create a more balanced/equitable workforce?
People often say “there aren’t enough jobs for young people.” And I reply “but there’s a lot of work to do!” This is what social entrepreneurship is: Identifying what work needs to be done and creating your own job. Indigenous youth have a lot of talents and they understand the needs and aspirations of their communities. Therefore, they are the best people to come up with innovative solutions.
What takeaways do you hope youth will come away with from the summit?
I think this is a great networking opportunity and a chance to gather different ideas and think about what they would like to accomplish in the future.
To learn more about Sacred Fire Productions and to support their work you can visit their website. They will also be holding a benefit gala on June 20, 2017 to support their goal to, “share the message of inclusion, unity and to bring nations together through arts and culture.”