Made possible by a generous grant from RBC
A group of Indigenous youth from across BC now have a clearer idea of the justice and public safety career options available to them thanks to Justice Institute of British Columbia’s (JIBC) Indigenous Youth Career Camp held recently.
“Introducing Indigenous youth to various opportunities for employment in justice and public safety is a critical piece of our broader institutional response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action,” said Dr. Jeffrey Schiffer, Program Director of JIBC’s Office of Indigenization. “By increasing the prevalence of Indigenous peoples, practices and perspectives in justice and public safety, the Office of Indigenization will continue to support the development of dynamic professionals better equipped to support communities across the province.”
The week-long overnight camp organized by JIBC’s Office of Indigenization was made possible through a generous $40,000 donation from RBC to The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation (The JIBC Foundation) and saw 21 youth from across the province participate. Of that funding, $5,000 has been designated for a new award to support Indigenous learners pursuing justice and public safety education.
“At RBC, we believe that when we invest in youth, great things happen. That’s why RBC is proud to support the JIBC Indigenous Youth Career Camp,” said Carmen Ryujin, Manager, Donations, BC Region, RBC. “Students are one of the greatest innovation resources this country has to offer, and RBC is committed to helping Canada’s youth get the knowledge and experience they need to find meaningful work.”
“Confidence, skills and connections – that’s the impact of RBC’s donation to this pilot project,” said Tracy Campbell, Executive Director of The JIBC Foundation. “RBC has been a long-time supporter of innovative JIBC initiatives, and we cannot thank them enough for breathing life into this transformative experience for youth. Not only were the youth introduced to careers in justice and public safety, but they were empowered to break barriers, build bridges and make lasting personal and community connections.”
The youth, aged 15 to 18, gained skills and experiences they can use for future employment. They completed a Red Cross course to earn CPR certification and donned full firefighter gear while learning to extinguish a car fire and operate fire extinguishers. They observed police recruit training and tested their fitness by taking the Police Officer Physical Ability Test. The week also included team building and conflict resolution exercises, sessions on emergency management, and visits with sheriffs and corrections workers.
A recently hired police officer of First Nations heritage shared with the youth her educational journey at JIBC and how she came to pursue a career in law enforcement, and a Vancouver Police Department officer introduced the youth to the VPD Aboriginal Cadet Program. Throughout the week, First Nations and Métis Elders provided cultural teachings and activities to the youth to strengthen their understanding and knowledge of their heritage.
For 18-year-old Kristin of Vancouver, the camp was just the latest step in a journey that she started two years ago to move away from her troubled past. That’s when a police officer had a long talk with her, and convinced her that she could make a difference to others.
“He told me I could do so much more with my life, that if I changed my life right now I could become a police officer and that they need people with experience being on the streets,” she said. “He planted a seed in my head for me.”
The camp left her feeling empowered. While policing is her main career interest, getting a taste of firefighting was also intriguing. “To experience the camp is a life-changer. It opens up my eyes to so many different things I can do with my life now.”
Jonara, 15, of Quesnel is interested in pursuing a career in wildfire management. She got to experience first-hand its impact on residents of the Cariboo region even before camp began. With highway routes south of her hometown closed due to forest fires, her mother took a detour north to Prince George where Jonara took a flight to Vancouver.
Once at the camp, she loved having the opportunity to suit up as a firefighter and get hands-on training. But the week also exposed her to other career paths that might suit her.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to open my options,” said Jonara, who said she’s now also interested in possibly being a corrections officer or paramedic. “If I can’t do one thing, I can just do the other.”
While 17-year-old Jacob from Sidney was keen to learn more about careers in policing and firefighting, he said the cultural emphasis was a welcome bonus.
“I know that I’m Métis, but I don’t know specifically where it is [in my family tree],” he said. As a result, he didn’t know anything about that part of his culture, and was happy to learn about aspects such as the smudging ceremony and the proper handling of a traditional drum.
Jacob appreciated the opportunity to learn from the Elders and said the experience has left him more comfortable now with exploring that part of his heritage.
About The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation
For more than 20 years, The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation (The JIBC Foundation) has inspired giving for important needs that enhance education, training, student learning and applied research at JIBC. These needs most often include student scholarships and bursaries, new equipment and technology, and other tools related to student success. As the recipient and steward of charitable gifts, The JIBC Foundation is building meaningful relationships with communities to support Canada’s leading public safety educator.