VolunteerYouth Ambassador of Reconciliation

The Office of Race Relations and Canadian Aboriginal Ministry Committee have come together to develop a dynamic and experiential leadership development and reconciliation program for youth attending CRC churches.  The program provides the opportunity for CRC young persons to not only respond to the call to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God,” but also to invite others along in that transformative journey.  In short, the program seeks to disciple disciples.

The Youth Ambassador of Reconciliation Program is designed to provide non-Indigenous CRC young people with the tools and opportunity to act as bridges between their church community and a local Aboriginal community.  The program is based on these values and principles: experiential, self-directed learning; mutual reciprocity that’s not based on charity; being in relationship WITH and not TO or FOR people; and Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). 

The Youth Ambassador of Reconciliation (YAR) will have the opportunity to learn and practice skills related to reconciliation by participating in a week long cross-cultural reconciliation journey in Southern Ontario and then developing a Reconciliation Action Plan within a CRC-affiliated faith community that they are connected to (i.e., local church, campus ministry, school, etc).  The week long cross-cultural reconciliation journey consists of a small learning community traveling to critical sites of racism, resistance, resilience and reconciliation.  We will meet and hear from different Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders directly involved in past and present Indigenous justice issues in Canada.  Each member of the learning community will be partnered with someone who has a differing racial/ethnic identity than themselves and encouraged to experience and process the journey together, as well as with the group as a whole.  The Reconciliation Action Plan is designed to build or strengthen relationships between the YAR’s church community and a local First Nations community (via a reserve or Friendship Centre). 

The young adult will be supported by the following people on their reconciliation journey: a Youth Mentor - a leader chosen from their faith-based community (ie; deacon, elder, Pastor, campus chaplain, youth leader) who will assist them with processing their learning and help them with the planning and implementation of a contextualized Reconciliation Action Plan; and a Youth Coach - a CRCNA staff member who will provide training, 1-to-1 support, resources and coaching throughout each step of the process.  This program is made possible through partnership with Global Youth Volunteer Network (GYVN).  GYVN’s mission is to empower and strengthen Indigenous communities through traditional land-based education, food sovereignty, and solidarity networks.

  • Program: Global Volunteer
  • Location: Ontario, Canada
  • Type: Individual, Youth group
  • Length of opportunity: Less than 2 Weeks
  • Skillset needed: None

Office of Race Relation, Canadian Aboriginal Ministry Committee, 

Dates Opportunity is Available: 
June 17 to 23, 2018

Number of Positions:
Maximum of 3 Youth Ambassadors of Reconciliation. Each YAR is required to have a Mentor from their local congregation or CRC-affiliated faith community.

May 11, 2018





Pre-trip learning activities and group introduction (1x)

  • Designed to prepare YAR with the knowledge and skills they need pre-trip, i.e.; Canadian history


YAR, YAR Mentors, YAR Coaches

Cross-cultural Reconciliation Journey
June 17-23rd, 2018

  • 1 day orientation designed to prepare group with the knowledge and skills they need during and post-trip, i.e.;  cross-cultural and community building skills

  • Designed to provide YAR with practical experience in developing cross-cultural relationships based on mutual respect and reciprocity.  Each day will end with a small group debriefing session

Various sites in Southern Ontario

YAR, YAR Coaches

Post-trip learning activities and group check-ins (2x) (T.B.D.)

  • Designed to provide YAR with peer support and access to resources and best practices


YAR, YAR Coaches

1-to-1 Coaching sessions (T.B.D.)

  • Designed to offer 1-to-1 support for YAR during the design and implementation phase of their Reconciliation Action Plan

  • Once per month for one hour


YAR, YAR Coaches

The cross-cultural reconciliation journey is designed to offer a transformational community learning experience.  There will be a mixture of individual, pair and group activities that are designed to promote holistic growth and development.  In addition to the cultural and historical tour of various sites critical to the well-being of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, participants will learn about land-based education, traditional methods of story-telling, and be exposed directly and indirectly to Indigenous ways of life.  

The learning experience will also include explanations of the diversity of Indigenous cultures within Ontario and lessons on the relationship between Indigenous peoples in the Canadian government, including a history of oppression.  We believe that this type of education is key for moving forward with the process of reconciliation, as it often that case that Indigenous peoples and the issues surrounding their community are misunderstood.  It is our hope that this community learning journey will offer space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to forge lasting and respectful relationships with one another as they learn about the history of Indigenous peoples in their province. 

Each day will offer various ways to engage and process knowledge, i.e., small group discussions, film viewings, conversations with Indigenous Elders/Knowledge Keepers/Leaders, museum visits, etc).  Here is the proposed itinerary of activities.

Day 1 Orientation Kitchener - Sunday June 17
Our orientation day will consist of meeting our cross-cultural journey community and engaging in a variety of activities that will help to prepare us for the following 6 days together.  We will meet with Elders who will go over protocol, culture, and territory.  We will participate in workshops centered around community building skills (conflict resolution, cross-cultural communication, community learning covenant).  Finally we will participate in a photo/video workshop, which will help us with journaling and documenting our personal and collective journey throughout the week. project.

Day 2 Toronto - Monday June 18
Day 2 will be focused about learning about the historical and contemporary stories of Indigenous peoples in Toronto.  We will tour the Native Canadian Centre, learn about Urban Indigenous life in a metropolitan city like Toronto, meet an Indigenous restaurateur and participate in a Indigenous historical tour of Toronto.  We will stay overnight at a dorm in Toronto, ON.

Day 3 Six Nations - Tuesday June 19
Day 3 will focus on going deeper about learning about treaty and land right issues, specifically for Six Nations on the Haldimand Track.  We will visit sites rich with cultural knowledge such as Woodland Cultural Centre, Chiefswood National Historic Museum and Mohawk poetess’ Josephine Baker’s historic home.  We will also meet with Seed Keepers and learn the history of Indigenous farming and practices.  We will stay overnight at Chiefswood Museum’s campsite.

Day 4 Aamjiwnaang First Nation Sarnia - Wednesday June 20
Day 4 will introduce themes of creation care/stewardship.  We will visit sites that are connected to environmental justice issues.   We will stay overnight in Sarnia, ON.

Day 5 and 6 - Wisahkotewinowak Gardens Kitchener - Thursday June 21and Friday June 22
We will return to Kitchener, ON and work together side-by-side in the gardens/farms of Wisahotewinowak Gardens, White Owl and Guelph Arboretum (all sites that are in the process of being indigenized).  Together we will work the produce plot, while learning about Indigenous food security, Indigenous wild food and medicine knowledge.  The evening will be reserved for celebrating National Indigenous People with the wider Kitchener/Waterloo community at a cultural event.  We will spend two consecutive nights at a dorm in Kitchener, ON.

Day 7 ½ day Canoeing the Grand Kitchener and debrief - Saturday June 23
The final day will consist of a leisure day of canoeing up the Grand River.  We will learn about the Indigenous history of the region and discuss Indigenous understanding of water.  We will camp on the banks of the Grand River and have a final closing circle, which will include a ceremony of thanksgiving and final reflections.  Our program will end by 3 PM and then non-local Kitchener youth will be bussed back to Burlington, ON.

Reconciliation Action Plan
The Reconciliation Action Plan has a two-fold purpose: to educate and prepare the church community for relationship building with their Indigenous neighbours; and to create opportunities for healthy relationship development.

The cost of the all-inclusive cross-cultural reconciliation journey in Southern Ontario is $800 (taxes included).  This includes roundtrip travel (starting and ending in Burlington, ON), meals, lodging, and a contribution to program fees and activities (i.e., canoeing, Elder/Knowledge Keeper honorariums).  Note: Youth Ambassadors of Reconciliation are responsible for arranging their travel to and from the designated meeting location in Burlington, ON. 

There are scholarships available for up to 65% of the cost of the trip per participant.  If you require a scholarship, please fill out the appropriate section indicating your request in your application.   In some cases a full scholarship may be available, please contact Iona Buisman at ibuisman@worldrenew.net for more details.

For Youth Ambassadors of Reconciliation
Young adults will be selected from CRC affiliated congregations/ministries in Ontario that are located within 50 km of a reserve/Friendship Centre and meet as many of the following criteria as possible:

  • 17-29 years of age
  • Prior experience with working with people of diverse backgrounds (socio-economic, racial, ethnic, cultural) in their church or school communities
  • Possessing the following qualities:
    - Leadership potential
    - Interest in reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons
    - Self-awareness, sensitivity, empathy, creativity and self-motivation
    - Socially conscious and justice oriented
    - Responsibility and ability to work with others
    - Willingness to participate fully in the program and to abide by the conditions of participation

For Youth Mentor
Youth mentor selection is important to the success of the program.  In order for an application to be accepted there must be a Youth Mentor willing to walk alongside the Youth Ambassador of  Reconciliation.  Those chosen should be selected in conjunction with the YAR and their community’s leadership and should possess as many of the following criteria as possible:

  • The same personal qualities as those listed for the the YAR
  • Good rapport with the YAR
  • Appreciation of the purposes of the program
  • Experience volunteering within various areas of the church and/or community, including past experience participating in executive church leadership
  • Ability to support the YAR and assist them with navigating church and community structures for the purpose of implementing the Reconciliation Action Plan
  • Willingness to participate in the on-site and online aspects of the program
  • Provide continual support to the youth ambassador
  • Appreciation of the purposes of the program
  • A working awareness and understanding of their own race/ethnicity and their actions in the struggle against racism and ethnocentrism

For Christian Reformed Church
The involvement of the YAR’s congregation or local community is critical to the success of the YARP.  A congregation/youth group/campus ministry understands that they are sending out this young adult as an ambassador of reconciliation for the purpose of engaging in a deeper work upon return, will be one which gets the most out of the program involvement.  The faith-based community should reflect as many as the following criteria as possible: 

  • Some demonstrated experience with engaging in activities related to reconciliation and justice pertaining to First Nations community or another marginalized community
  • Willingness to engage in the development and implementation of a Reconciliation Action Plan with their YAR
  • Willingness to build or deepen relationship with a First Nations community
  • Commitment to support YAR in prayer - (Note: congregants wishing to partner with the YARP through prayer are asked to contact barthur@crcna.org to obtain prayer points)

Shannon Perez is the Canadian Ministries’ Justice and Reconciliation Mobilizer. She provides staff support to the Canadian Aboriginal Ministry Committee and fosters leadership among congregations for reconciliation and right relationships with our Indigenous neighbours. Shannon is a member of the Sayisi Dene First Nation, and lives in Winnipeg with her husband and 3 children.

Bernadette Arthur is the Canadian Race Relations Advocate for the Office of Race Relations.  She provides anti-racism and reconciliation training, facilitation and coaching to CRC leaders and congregations for the purpose of promoting diversity and inclusivity.  Bernadette brings her wealth of experience as a Child and Youth Worker to the program, as she has worked for over 12 years with young adults and their families in faith-based, community, education, child welfare, and residential settings.  She lives in Hamilton, ON and is passionate about ensuring that there’s room at the table for everyone.

*Note: our group will be joined by Indigenous youth who are apart of or affiliated with Global Youth Volunteer Network (GYVN).