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Thursday, 24 July 2008

Youth Peacebuilding

A little item I saw in the FreeP Breaking News section yesterday "New youth program launches today". It’s called the “Youth Peacebuilding Project” put on by Canadian Mennonite University and funded by the United Way.

Having lived downtown for a long time, youth and what they are doing with themselves, is a real issue for me, so I checked it out.

The United Way, contributing $45k for the project, describes it as:

A 12 month project intended to build positive relationships between African and Aboriginal youth in the downtown and north-end neighbourhoods. The institute, in partnership with Ka Ni Kanichihk and the YMCA-YWCA, will organize a number of relationship-building and mentoring events for youth. A summer peace camp, designed to build strong interpersonal relationships, will develop young mentors and leaders from both communities.”

The CMU goes into more detail:

The Youth Peacebuilding Project is based on an international program called Seeds of Peace whose goals include: “…educating (youth) to develop empathy, respect and confidence. It is equipping them with communication and negotiation skills. It is enabling them to see the human face of their enemies. By empowering them to emerge as tomorrow’s leaders, Seeds of Peace is working to forge the personal relationships so critical to peacemaking and reconciliation.

From the media release:

“There’s a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding between the two groups,” says Noëlle DePape, Executive Director of the Immigrant and Refugee Community of Manitoba (IRCOM), “It’s leading to problems, especially between some young people.” If they could talk, they’d find that both groups are “facing similar issues of culture shock and adjusting to life in the city,” she adds.

I think the project is a great idea. Sometimes realizing that you’re not so different after all can go a long way to eliminating the “bogeymen” that keep people apart.

I'd be interested to see how the program leaders feel that things have gone after the 12 months are up. I would really like to see a project like this go another step further – a sort of youth corps project. Kids from different races working side by side on community projects. Learning to build their neighbourhood rather than doing things to tear them apart.

1 comment:

Just an office monkey in the Peg said...

Check out the Canada World Youth programs and Katimavik, both offer opportunities to volunteer in other countries giving youth a bigger picture of what life is all about. Unfortunately, this kind of programming is expensive. Although, the idea of fundraising to cover costs by the CWY is a good one.