What began as an emergency community meeting in the north end of Halifax to discuss the closure of the Kitpu Aboriginal Youth Programs has snowballed into a national day of action. Since the first meeting took place in Halifax on June 19th, 2012, supporters of the Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre and Kitpu Youth Programs called a National Day of Action for July 12th , 2012. Halifax has called upon other communities who also face closures in aboriginal youth programs to join us and walk with fire and light to your local Friendship Centre to show support and to protest the Federal Government's systemic under-funding of crucial aboriginal programs. From Goose Bay, Newfoundland to Victoria B.C., communities are now mobilizing to speak out against the freeze of Federal funds for Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth (CCAY) on July 12th. The funds in this program were quietly frozen earlier in June with no consultation to communities. The Government has stated that this funding, previously allocated to provide cultural learning opportunities for aboriginal youth, will be frozen until it is "realigned to meet the Government mandate". Since then, youth centres have been forced to shut their doors in Inuvik, Vancouver, Victoria, Goose Bay, Halifax and many other areas. Urban aboriginal youth of Canada and their supporters are calling upon the Federal Government to immediately unfreeze funding allocated for the CCAY program while communities work to negotiate program requirements for the 2013-2014 year. CCAY projects throughout Canada provide a safe, high-impact, culturally appropriate service for Aboriginal youth in urban centres. This results in increased job readiness- but also saves lives. Citizens of Halifax will not let these programs close without a fight.
Rebecca Moore, a former Kitpu Program participant has said: "I support this program because of what it gave to me. We can do this". Since the first meeting in Halifax many local businesses and organizations have joined the fight including, Cansel Wade, members of the North End Business Development Initiative, the Dalhousie Student Union, the UPS Store (Dartmouth), Sisters of Charity, the Bus Stop Theatre, the Canadian Federation of Students NS Chapter, the Indigenous Solidarity Movement, artists Alan Syliboy, Leonard Paul and Tony Publicover and many more. Momentum is spreading across to the West, where tomorrow in Vancouver, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of Union BC Indian Chiefs, is meeting with youth to plan the Day of Action on July 12th in downtown Vancouver. Residents of Halifax are also planning an art auction fundraising event July 13th to raise some emergency funds to keep the doors open for at least part of the summer. Kitpu Youth have begun a bottle drive.
Details on Halifax Event:
When: July 12th, 2012 7:30 pm
Where: Halifax Grand Parade Square
Members of the urban Mi'kmaq community and supporters of the Save Kitpu campaign will be speaking at a short rally before we march through Halifax with fire and light to the Friendship Centre to show our support.
Contact: Ardath Whynacht 902-478-6718 or (follow @ardathJean or #savekitpu) for more information on Halifax events or updates what is happening across the country.