Calgary, AB: As Influence Mentoring Society looks to create better opportunities for Indigenous Youth in pursuit of post-secondary careers, in a model inspired by the spirit of collaboration across culture, newly announced seed funding from actors and philanthropists Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively will bring this vision one step closer to reality.
Influence Mentoring Society Chairperson, Colby Delorme says that traditionally, 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. This transference of knowledge has been integral to Indigenous ways of knowing and being.
Delorme adds that Influence Mentoring’s mission is also guided by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Calls to Action, which speak 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.”
“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,” says 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 both say “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.” “All too often, diverse groups are left behind in the things we take for granted. This program aims to rectify that imbalance.” he added.
Influence Mentoring is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors with substantial experience working with Indigenous communities and across the not-for-profit and corporate sectors. As part of the launch of Influence Mentoring, they are actively recruiting mentors, protégés, and additional funders and will be seeking partnerships with post-secondary institutions to host the inaugural mentorship pilot project.