The Ethno-Cultural Youth Advisory Committee (EYAC) of the Youth Services Bureau (YSB) of Ottawa, is a peer-to-peer youth engagement committee that has existed since 2009. We focus on providing services and implementing programs that will help newcomer, refugee, second-generation, and racialized youth integrate and navigate more easily into Canada. One such initiative is the Immigrant Youth Employment Program (IYEP). The IYEP program provides youth with 5 weeks of in-class, peer-to-peer training sessions on subjects such as Canadian workplace orientation, intro to resume and cover letter, job search and on conducting interviews. After completion of the 5 workshops, the youth have the chance to participate in an 8-week volunteer job placement, where they are able to attain job experience as well as gain references.
Furthermore, we organize multicultural events to promote inclusion and reduce acts of discrimination towards newcomer communities in Ottawa. We conduct various presentations to social service providers and the general community on topics such as diversity, discrimination, anti-bullying and inter-generational conflicts. We aim to educate, promote and change perspectives.
Recently, our team has also conducted workshops focused on perceptions of mental health in newcomer communities. This workshop aims to help service providers understand how individuals from different cultures view mental illness, what their understanding of treatment is, and how that impacts the way in which they seek help. In addition, this workshop helps service providers develop the skills and tools on how to best engage with those experiencing mental health challenges from folks of different backgrounds.
In summary, the EYAC strongly believes that as youth, we have the capacity to create change within our own communities. By allowing youth to have ownership and responsibility, we are able to then empower ourselves and one another with our passion for equality and diversity.