Friday, Apr. 15 is the application deadline for those ages 16 to 25 wanting to participate in the Youth Ambassador Program of the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF).

Throughout the four-week leadership training program, 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from throughout Canada will engage in online, part-time work that will support them in becoming champions of reconciliation in their schools and communities.

Lisa Prinn, education and activation manager, says it started last year with 50 youth and has doubled to 100 in its sophomore year.

"We provide a variety of different workshops to bring youth together to understand Canada's true history with residential schools, and also about the ongoing presence of unique and wonderful Indigenous cultures throughout Canada."

It runs three days a week, typically Tuesday to Thursday in the late morning. They'll be two cohorts of 50, one in July, and one in August.

All the workshops are virtual and if internet connectivity is an issue, participants will be mailed packages or can phone. 

"We're really flexible. If a youth has a summer job, and they can't make one or two of the sessions, we record everything so that they can catch up later, because we want to make sure everybody has the same opportunity to participate."

At the end of the program, the youth participants will receive an honorarium and have the chance to make lasting change through the new volunteer youth ambassador committee that helps to guide DWF programming and champion its work.

All participants are provided a toolkit so everybody has the same supplies and access to everything they'll need to complete the program, she explains.

The kits reflect the topics that will be covered by numerous presenters.

"Last year, they did a cooking camp challenge with Bangin' Bannock, and the women who started the company actually came on and talked about starting their business during COVID, and then the youth had to do a cooking challenge, and had to make a savory and sweet bannock and record the process."

Leading a painting workshop was Patrick Hunter, a two-spirit Ojibway artist, graphic designer, and entrepreneur from Red Lake, ON, who is widely known for designing the Chicago Blackhawks helmet for goalie Marc André Fleury

"We're having a bunch of guest speakers, so they'll all be all new to the youth. They'll be doing some beading, some learning, and some sharing, so it should be pretty wonderful."

The application process is designed to be accessible. They can phone in if they are uncomfortable filling out forms or even add a resume if they so wish, although it's not necessary.

"You can be in school, you could be out of schools, we're really just looking for youth that are committed to learning more about reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and that are committed to doing something, as Gord Downie says."

For more information or to make an application go here.