By: Adesuwa Ero, Intern, International Institute for Sustainable Development
The Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc an aboriginal people focused community organization conducted a 20 participant aboriginal youth roundtable discussing what they would want their city to look like in the future. There were a number of overarching issues that stood out, establishing the seemingly little things that are prevalent in the city and are not receiving adequate attention or basically being overlooked.
Here are the major themes from the Ma Mawi Indigenous youth roundtable:
1. Advocating for Safer Streets: imagine a city free of gang groups, the youth emphasized the need for community programs and sensitization campaigns directed towards raising awareness on the dangers of gang groups and help stop it. In addition, the re-introduction of Safety Walk Patrols, community watch officers, brighter street lights and 24hour youth shelters and drop-ins.
2. Complete Eradication of Homelessness: creation of a zero-homelessness program geared towards the revamp of homeless people, re-introducing them as active members of the society through the provision of permanent employment, temporary housing and one to one support workers. This action thus aid poverty reduction
3. Education: a lot of ideas came up on this subject, first on the list is the building of more indigenous schools in the city. In line with this idea is the inclusion of indigenous history into all school’s curriculum as well as the training of teachers on indigenous peoples’ history. Free schools supplies for all students, free transportation for school students, more tutoring and mentorship programs, free/affordable university training programs, more cultural programs, guaranteed employment opportunities upon graduation and better resources for young parents such as parenting programs.
4. Improved Transit System: reduced reduced bus and taxi fares as well as 24hours bus system. This facilitates a reduced number of cars on the roads fostering a greener city and a healthy population.
5. End Racism: enforcement of a zero tolerance policy at all levels of government, in school and workplace environments.
Clearly defining and addressing the issues that affect today’s youths is extremely crucial to building more inclusive cities and fostering sustainable development because they are a significant sect of the city’s population and leaders of tomorrow. More so, placing much emphasis on the aboriginal community given that Winnipeg has the highest Aboriginal population than any city in Canada, with a growth rate of 20% within 2006-2011. (Statistics Canada, 2011)