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6 B.C. Interior First Nations Youth to attend UN forum in NYC

The youth are part of an International Youth Ambassador Program
Micole Myers is one of six Tsilhqot’in youth going to the United Nations forum in New York City, April 15 to 26. (Photo submitted)

Six First Nations youth from the B.C. Interior will be in New York participating in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, April 15 to 26.

They will be there for two weeks through a first-of-its-kind international youth ambassador program created by the Tŝilhqot’in National Government (TNG).

“Our youth are our future,” said Nits’il?n (Chief) Joe Alphonse, TNG tribal chair. “Having a program like this one allows us to teach and mentor the next generation of Tŝilhqot’in leaders.”

Their presence is fitting as the theme of the 2024 forum is “Enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: emphasizing the voices of Indigenous youth.”

Xeni Lulua of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation is one of the six youth ambassadors attending.

She said she is looking forward to seeing how all leaders, including the Tŝilhqot’in leaders work together at the forum.

“One day I plan to be a leader in my community and nation. Gaining the knowledge and experience through this program will allow me to do this in a good way.”

Presently she is enrolled at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

Echoing Lulua, youth ambassador Micole Myers, of Yunesit’in First Nation, said the program is a great opportunity for the youth to be a voice for their people, “share our culture and making connections with other nations.”

She attended last year as well.

Funding from Fulbright Canada, which is the Foundation for Educational Exchange Between Canada and the United States, has made it possible for the youth to attend.

Robin McLay, regional director of Fullbright Canada West and program director of Honouring Nations Canada, said they are privileged to collaborate with the TNG to advance the international youth ambassador program.

“We extend heartfelt congratulations to the TNG for their induction into the esteemed Honouring Nations Canada list of awardees with the Honouring Nations Good Governance Award Program,” McLay said.

Dr. Bashir Makhoul, president and vice-chancellor, University Canada West, said they are also honoured to collaborate with the TNG to design educational initiatives to help youth develop a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which various UN bodies and other multicultural institutions strive to incorporate the rights of Indigenous peoples into their broader developmental and human rights agendas.

READ MORE: B.C. legislates $6.45M in annual funding for First Nations post-secondary

READ MORE: Tsilhqot’in chiefs attending United Nations forum on Indigenous issues in New York City

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Xeni Lulua of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation is one of six Tsilhqot’in youth attending the United Nations forum in New York April 15 to 26. (Photo submitted)