Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Native Studies

Alberta's Future Leaders Program: A Case Study of Aboriginal Youth and Community Development

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Native Studies

Alberta's Future Leaders Program: A Case Study of Aboriginal Youth and Community Development

Article excerpt

Abstract / Résumé

In this paper, Alberta's Future Leaders Program is used as a case study to identify and evaluate the implementation, or lack thereof, of youth and community development in Aboriginal contexts. Promising practices and potential program changes are also explored. As such we move beyond examination of the links between youth and community development and focus on how culturally appropriate programming can serve to benefit Aboriginal youth and community programs in ways that allow Aboriginal youth to become more connected to themselves, their communities, and their cultures.

L'article présente une étude du cas de l'Alberta's Future Leaders Program pour cerner et évaluer la mise en oeuvre, ou son absence, du développement communautaire et du développement des jeunes dans des contextes autochtones. On explore aussi les pratiques prometteuses et les modifications potentielles du programme. On dépasse ensuite l'examen des liens entre la jeunesse et le développement communautaire pour se concentrer sur les avantages que les programmes sensibles à la culture peuvent apporter aux programmes communautaires et pour les jeunes d'une manière qui permet aux jeunes autochtones de mieux se connaître et de se lier à leurs collectivités et leurs cultures respectives.

Recreation programs for youth have become a popular way of 'developing' youth as well as the communities in which they live. These programs are offered in an attempt to engage youth and communities in healthy lifestyles and to enable them to reap the benefits of participation in leisure, recreation, and sport. With an abundance of programs and anecdotal evidence of their success comes the need to assess whether or not these programs are in fact successful and, if so, what factors lead to their success. If common threads between successful youth and community programs can be identified, then criteria for youth development programs can be used to enhance and strengthen existing programs. In this paper, we use Johnston-Nicholson, Collins, and Holmer's (2004) framework of the "Six Cs" to examine Alberta's Future Leaders Program (AFL), while also drawing on broader literature pertaining to leadership and mentoring. The AFL links youth development with community development in an attempt to strengthen the ties between the predominantly Aboriginal youth with which the program works and the communities in which they live. The AFL Program will be used as a case study to identify promising practices in youth and community development in an Aboriginal context. Further, we evaluate the implementation, or lack thereof, of these practice within the AFL, and potential program changes are explored.

Introduction

In the past, youth development and community development initiatives were often conducted independently of each other. However, according to London, Zimmerman, and Erbstein (2003), the failure to link youth and community development results in "youth development efforts [that] are stunted in their abilities to cultivate young people's individual growth, their membership in communities, and their ability to effect institutional and community change" and leads to "young people's alienation and resentment of the implied low expectations and the cultural and political disconnect from their communities" (p. 34). Community development can be defined as a process intending to "educate and involve citizens in a process of individual empowerment and community change" (Hutchinson & Nogradi, 1996:93), while, similarly, youth development involves positive change on an individual basis and/or on a societal basis (Baldwin, 2000). Certainly, linking youth programming and community development is important because each one can enrich the other. London et al. state that "when thought of, and practiced together, youth, organizational, and community development can exponentially improve all community efforts" (5). The authors also find that "in partnership, these models of development can create ladders of responsibility and support that draw youth into progressively higher levels of organizational and community leadership" (35). …

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