Indigenous youth empowerment program keeps community engaged

A two story log house with an angled roof and a blue tent and table at the base
Kitsumkalums' Community Lighthouse on the day of their grand opening. Photo by Morgyn Budden.
Morgyn Budden - CFNR - TerraceBC | 20-09-2022
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The Northwest Inter-Nation Family and Community Services Society (NIFCS) have been celebrating the openings of their community lighthouses over the past two weeks. 

In seven Indigenous communities in the northwest, NIFCS has established what they call "lighthouses," which is a place for children and community members to participate in the Youth Empowerment and Community Engagement Program. 

Communities involved in the program include Kitsumkalum, Kitselas, Gitga’at (Hartley Bay), Lax Kw'alaams, Haisla (Kitimat), Metlakatla, and Gitxalaa. 

With a customizable plan for each community, the program works to help kids apply what they call "virtues" to their everyday life as a prevention-based approach to mental health and other challenges youths may face. 

Virtues lessons include topics like self-respect and communication, and are applied through active learning with activities like painting, photography, and even drone piloting. 

Another goal of the program is to bring the community together for cultural teachings. Practicing skills like weaving, cooking traditional meals, and language. 

Each lighthouse has a local youth empowerment worker to further tailor the program to each community's needs.  As a way to keep the program sustainable, mentorship is involved in the later stages of the program to encourage kids to now become the teachers of the program. 

NIFCS has been working on this program since 2019 and is now completing the last stage of construction on the Haisla lighthouse.

Listen to the CFNR story below: