In 1999 Redmond Little Chief organized a suicide awareness conference, titled “Wake Up Call”. The strongest recommendation from the conference was for the development of an Indigenous youth council to assist the Mayor of Calgary in decisions of policy and strategy on issues concerning them. With this recommendation in mind, Mr. Little Chief coordinated a roundtable to discuss the opportunities and strategies of the council. From this roundtable the Mayor’s Aboriginal Youth Advisory Committee (MAYAC) was formed.
Armed with fresh ideas and the support of Mayor Al Duerr, MAYAC formed a board of a second entity, the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY). In 2000, USAY hosted the 1st Annual Firekeepers Gathering aimed at assisting Indigenous youth with issues concerning personal achievement in an urban setting. The success of the Firekeepers Gathering encouraged the board to explore other opportunities for Indigenous youth in Calgary, and to see where USAY could provide services to ensure the experience of living in Calgary for Indigenous youth is a positive one.
In 2001, with support from Family and Community Support Services, United Way, the Métis Nation of Alberta and Alberta Community Development, USAY was established as a not-for-profit organization and began paving the way as one of Calgary’s leading organizations for Indigenous youth.
Today, USAY continues to serve Calgary’s Indigenous community at our new location in The Park at Willowglen, easily accessed via the Barlow/Maxbell C-train station. USAY continues to provide youth with opportunities for advancement through programming, board and volunteer opportunities. USAY will continue to seek out new programming that will help and encourage Indigenous youth to live healthy and successful lives in the City of Calgary.
92% of Indigenous youth in USAY’s programs feel more connected to their culture; a huge accomplishment when 69% of Indigenous youth are in the child welfare system and detached from their families.
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