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Minister reannounces Indigenous youth funding says its key to reconciliation

Indigenous youth activists hope federal funding will make their voices heard in Ottawa.At a news conference in Saskatoon on Tuesday, Minister of Crown-Indigenous relations Carolyn Bennett said Indigenous youth are “key” to achieving reconciliation in Canada. She re-announced $15.2 million in funding over the next three years for Canadian Roots Exchange, a Saskatoon-based charity promoting dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth.Bennett said the money will fund a “national network to share information and best practices,” which she said will “make it much easier and more straightforward” to consult young Indigenous people on federal policy.Bennett’s office has faced criticism for its consultations on the Recognition and Implementation of Rights framework, which some Indigenous leaders charged did not adequately consult youth or Elders.Max FineDay, the executive director of Canadian Roots Exchange and a member of Sweetgrass First Nation, said Indigenous youth are often the most optimistic about addressing systemic inequalities but struggle to make their voices heard on Parliament Hill.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.“We know the political system is not user-friendly for Indigenous people,” he said. “Young people can see and articulate the problems they see in their communities, but it doesn’t always get to Ottawa.”Related Reconciliation conference aims to build bridges through youth leadership Youth are key in moving reconciliation forward, says Max FineDay Prior to the announcement, Indigenous youth asked Bennett about a range of issues affecting their communities, which FineDay said include a high youth suicide rate, the environment and disparity in educational opportunities.“Saskatoon and other places in the country are still facing this — the silliness of stereotypes and segregation, ‘east  side versus west side’ — it doesn’t have to be like this,” FineDay said.Bennett said conversations like those are vital to address “racism that still plagues our country.”The $15.2 million, which was previously pledged in the most recent federal budget, is the latest in a trend of repeated announcements of federal funding as the federal election approaches on Oct. 21. The campaign period is expected to begin soon.Pre-election rules forbid advertising in the immediate prelude to the writ dropping, but do not ban repeating announcements.FineDay stressed his organization is non-partisan.“We’re going to be talking with the politicians to make sure that youth policy agenda items are on the forefront after the election, no matter who wins,” he said.zvescera@postmedia.com read more

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