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Miyomahchihowin: In Good Health

Students play a rock paper scissors game at the In Good Health YYC / Miyomahchihowin class in Calgary.

Pathways to Employment.

In 2016, with funding support from Urban Partnerships program of the Alberta Native Friendship Centre, Miyomahchihowin began as a pilot project aimed at providing pathways for Edmonton Indigenous youth to develop personal skills and gain employment or volunteer opportunities in the areas of sport, recreation, health promotion, and active living. In partnership with the Edmonton Public School Board, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education, and Alberta Native Friendship Centre, Ever Active Schools developed Miyomahchihowin as one effort in addressing the education and employment barriers faced by Indigenous youth. 

In its first iteration, Miyomahchihowin took the shape of a spring break camp. Students participated in training to earn certifications in such disciplines as volleyball and soccer officiating, soccer coaching FUNdamentals and Standard First Aid, all while earning high school credits for their efforts. While we garnered many learnings from the pilot, the reception to the work was overwhelmingly positive.

While spring break camp continued to exist, Miyomahchihowin morphed into a second form: one-credit weekends. One credit weekends follow the same formula of trainings to earn certifications and credits for Indigenous high school students; however, the trainings were culturally based. Students participated in outdoor survival skills and moose hide tanning weekends, earning credits for their work and participation.

Over the 2018/2019 school year, Miyomahchihowin again evolved to serve refugee and immigrant students in Edmonton through the spring break camp model. The project, funded by RBC Future Launch, became known as “In Good Health,” which is the English translation of the Cree word "miyomahchihowin". Over the week of spring break camp, students earned credits for certifications. The unique feature of this spring break camp is that participating students were enrolled in the City of Edmonton program, Leader In Training (LIT). The City of Edmonton will support these youth to earn valuable work experience through the LIT program; simultaneously, students will earn high school work experience credits. 

The In Good Health YYC project launched in Calgary in 2018 with the creation of a full-semester exploratory program called Recreational Leadership, in partnership with The City of Calgary, the Calgary Board of Education, and the New Central Library with project funding from JumpStart. True to its roots in the Miyomahchihowin pilot, the shared goals of the program are to provide pathways to employment in the fields of recreation and human services through opportunities to earn high school credits, gain volunteer and work experience, and engage in relevant training. 

Through the off-campus learning opportunity in the Winter 2019 term, students engaged in foundational training in leadership and recreational programming and had the opportunity to earn up to 13 high school credits in Career and Technology Studies and Work Experience. Participants spent their afternoons learning and developing competencies in a range of topic areas, including physical literacy, adapting physical activity for inclusive play, cultural thinking, traditional Dene and Blackfoot games, and employability and job maintenance. Not only did students have the opportunity to learn and network with 11 unique community partners, but they also dedicated more than 300 hours towards volunteering in community programming. 

The first cohort of students graduated from the program in May of 2019. Through our partnership with the City of Calgary - Calgary Neighbourhoods Business Unit, students had the opportunity to apply for summer employment as recreation leaders in day camp programs across the city. As a result of their participation in the program, students were well-equipped with the knowledge and skills to move through the application and interview processes and 14 Recreation Leaders were successful in obtaining summer jobs with the City of Calgary.

The youth that participated in the program expressed their excitement not only about the hands-on learning environment and work experience opportunities, but also about developing skills in communication and collaboration that have helped them build confidence and will be useful throughout their lives.

  • 0%
    of students reported that the program prepared them to find a job and create resumes that reflects their skills and experience
  • 0%
    of students reported being a better role model for peers and younger kids because of the program
  • 0%
    of students reported that their perceptions and biases have been affected in a positive way as a result of the program
  • 0%
    of students reported feeling more positive about their future

“I was able to learn how to lead and understand the principles of what makes a good leader.”

“I learned how to identify my own biases and put them aside so I can treat everyone equally.”

“I feel confident and experienced to be a summer camp leader for youth.”

“Teamwork and learning to grow and work together is what I learned the most about. It provided me with great connections and skills to use in my adult life.”

“It is a great opportunity for people like me who don’t think they can get into a career like this to prove to themselves that they can.”

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