While the project is still waiting for government approval, the Cree Nation Youth Council has teamed up with Canada World Youth in a project to give Cree youth an experience of a lifetime volunteering with the Indigenous people of Peru.

Since 1971, Canada World Youth (CWY) has sent Canadian youth to foreign nations to help people in need while helping volunteers become informed global citizens.

According to Charley Wash, the Cree Nation Youth Council’s (CNYC) Youth Forum Coordinator, CWY approached the council last summer to propose the project. Teaming up for a joint venture, the CNYC dubbed the project the Cree World Youth and they will soon be looking to recruit a team of 10 youth between the ages of 15-29 to send abroad.

“All of the youth will be going to the same place; the target area right now will be in Peru and the plan is to send them to an Aboriginal community there,” said Wash.

The youth that go on this trip will need to be available to go for a three-month period over the summer of 2012. While the trip may still be far off in the future, a great deal still needs to happen before the Cree youth will have the chance of a totally original work experience.

Wash said that the volunteers would likely be employed in a wide variety of domains, from environmental work to volunteering at the community’s medical clinic. While working in a medical clinic may sound daunting, CWY will provide approximately 80 hours of training for the participants prior to leaving Canada. Spanish-language courses will also be necessary for the youth heading to Peru so that they too will be able to learn and share with their hosts.

Part of this training will take place in Eeyou Istchee but a portion will have to be completed at the CWY’s offices in Montreal.

Though they haven’t developed criteria yet for the young people the CNYC will be looking to send on this trip, Wash said that they will need to interview all of the potential candidates to make their selection so that the most can be made of the trip.

“We don’t want the youth in this project to look at it as just a free trip for a couple of months and come back without anything positive coming out of it. I think the general sense with this project is to try to get some youth involved and have a nice trip abroad where they can learn valuable life lessons and work skills. We also want to pick the best candidates to bring this back to the Cree nation for the benefit of other youth within in the Cree nation,” said Wash.

According to CNYC Grand Chief Stacy Bear, this trip will really be about expanding the horizons of the Cree youth.

“The purpose of the trip is to open up the world to our young people and get them out of the small rez mentality. There is more to life than what they see in the community. They may have dreams in their hearts that are too big for community life but don’t strive for them because they fear what’s out there, they fear what they do not know what they haven’t experienced.

“We are making available the opportunity of a life-changing trip. It is an opportunity to build leadership skills, communication skills, learn group dynamics, cultural exchange, and the work they will be doing will most likely help a people, a community. They will also get to meet people of a different culture and see the similarities and differences between our two cultures,” said Bear.

Wash said that the CNYC expects to get full government approval and sponsorship for the program by the spring. He is looking to start posting registration forms by either late summer or early fall.

For all those interested in applying to the program, information is available through Wash, who can be reached at (418) 770-5741.