neil fernyhough

ALEX HOUSE: Youth Neighbourhood Small Grants – an initiative for youth, by youth

Anyone 12-25 may apply for projects within their community that create or deepen connection

Last month, I introduced you to one of the two people who have been assisting Alex House this summer in expanding the scope and impact of our community engagement programs. Today, I want you to meet Inayat Duhra, our community projects development assistant.

Inayat has been working with Alex House’s Youth Space to bring the popular Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program to younger members of our community. Developed by Vancouver Foundation, NSGs are distributed through local partners like Alex House to help strengthen and build new community connections. Through this support, projects like book exchanges, benches, and community gardens have been built, bringing people closer to their neighbours, as they create a legacy within their community together.

Volunteer leaders and staff co-ordinators from across Metro Vancouver came together last summer, exploring ways of encouraging more youth participation in NSGs.

Despite being a significant segment of the population, youth under 25 make up only about one-tenth of applications; and there presently are no youth at the regional co-ordinating table. A desire to live up to the aspiration of NSGs to provide space for diverse and inclusive participation thus prompted the development of the Youth Neighbourhood Small Grants (Y-NSG) initiative.

The Y-NSG is for youth, by youth. People ages 12-25 may apply for projects within their community that create or deepen connection. Their proposals will be reviewed by a committee of youth within different communities across Metro Vancouver. Youth are overseeing the launch of the Y-NSG pilot from website development to promotion to planning the kickoff event. To learn more about this upcoming project and stay updated, check out the Y-NSG Instagram (youthnsgbc) or the NSG website (neighbourhoodsmallgrants.ca).

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In the wake of mass grave sites being discovered at residential school sites beginning last May, there has been a renewed and intensified call on the part of Indigenous communities for the decolonization of systems and institutions in our society; including the decolonization of perceptions on the part of settler Canadians and their descendants.

The first step in developing cultural humility and empathy is understanding how perceptions and beliefs about Indigenous people, held by settler colonists and their descendants, are shaped and reinforced by systems and institutions which reinforce social, economic, and political inequities. The interest in this journey was demonstrated by the enormous popularity of Dr. Andrea Montgomery DiMarco’s Anti-Racism Circle (ARC) series, offered this past spring and summer in collaboration with Alex House and Flourishing Foundation.

We’re excited to announce that a second eight-week ARC series will be offered, beginning Sept. 13.

Dr. Montogomery Di Marco will explore Canada’s colonial roots; the nature and impact of racism within Canada; and offer insights and information on anti-racism language, strategies, and tools to integrate diversity and inclusion into our communities to build safe and healthy workplaces and spaces. To register contact: contact@flourishingfoundation.org

Neil Fernyhough is manager of Alexandra Neighbourhood House’s community programs. For information on programs/services at Camp Alexandra, call 604-535-0015 or go to www.alexhouse.net

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