Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donate $250K to support Indigenous mentorship program

‘All too often, diverse groups are left behind in the things we take for granted,’ Ryan Reynolds said.

Actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have made a very generous donation to support a Canadian mentorship program for Indigenous post-secondary students.

Colby Delorme, chair of the Calgary-based Influence Mentoring Society, announced that Reynolds and Lively donated $250,000, which will bring the program “one step closer to reality.”

Delorme said that mentorship has played an important role in the Indigenous community, adding that culture, traditions, spirituality, teachings and stories have all been shared and best understood through the Elder and protégé relationship. 

Delorme adds that Influence Mentoring’s mission is guided by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action, which speaks to the need to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

“This project exemplifies the spirit of reconciliation whereby Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who believe that providing mentoring opportunities for post-secondary, Indigenous youth, adapt a two-way mentoring model, and in doing so work together to build stronger relationships while improving cross-cultural understanding and appreciation,” Delorme said. 

“Further, Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People affirms this importance, stating that ‘Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.'"

“Eliminating these gaps and ultimately increasing Indigenous representation in the private sector, including in management and executive positions, should be a shared journey,” said Delorme. “We are incredibly grateful to Ryan and Blake for their generous donation of $250,000. This speaks not only to having the resources available to support Indigenous youth, but also is a signal of true reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.”

Reynolds and Lively said that they are happy to support the program, which seeks to teach Indigenous issues, culture and history to Indigenous youth in Canada and help them enter the job market after they graduate.

“We are so happy to support the Influence Mentoring program that will help Indigenous youth in Canada, who are trying to successfully complete their post-secondary pursuits and enter the job market for the first time,” the couple said.

“All too often, diverse groups are left behind in the things we take for granted. This program aims to rectify that imbalance," the Deadpool actor added.

Last June, the couple donated $200,000 to an institute at St. Francis Xavier in Nova Scotia to help promote Indigenous women’s leadership. Their donation was a kick-start for the Coady Institue’s goal of raising $1 million for its International Centre for Women’s Leadership and the centre’s Indigenous programming. 

In a statement, Reynolds said he and Lively were proud to be associated with the Coady Institute. “The world’s changing quickly, and one thing we’re sure of is that communities are best led from within,” Reynolds said. “Indigenous women are the leaders who will develop and implement approaches to increase social capital of their own communities, organizations and nations.”