This section aims to provide details on the latest youth initiatives.
On February 11, 2021, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm EST, the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)’s Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management (AAROM) program held a national youth gathering to hear from Indigenous youth how they can be better supported in their aspirations to follow careers in fisheries, aquatic resources and oceans science. The gathering took place on a virtual platform allowing for youth to come together from coast to coast to coast. Twenty-two (22) youth registered and seven (7) attended the breakout discussion sessions. Attendee backgrounds varied as some are attending high school or attending post-secondary studies in the field and some currently working in the field or working in the field with aspirations for continued studies.
The purpose of the virtual gathering was to provide a forum for youth to learn about current AAROM program initiatives but also convene and discuss whether these initiatives can help them meet their career aspirations. The gathering also aimed to identify what other future initiatives and meetings are needed to support them in pursuing careers in the fields of fisheries, aquatic resources and oceans science.
Presentations were given by Elders, DFO experts and youth panelists. The panelists shared their career journeys, their educational paths, the supports and encouragements they got along the way but also what they prefer about working and studying in this field. Participants engaged in polling questions and breakout discussion sessions to share their perspective on the support they require to follow or continue in fisheries, aquatic resources and oceans science fields. The three main themes that the youth shared is that they are drawn to the AAROM program because it is community-led and engaged, it respects ecological and traditional knowledge, and AAROM departments promote and support youth engagement and career development.
The key takeaways from the session based on youth participation included the need to recruit a National Youth Development Officer (YDO) to work with AAROM departments, DFO, or other partners on the development and carry-out of youth initiatives. In addition, the recruitment of Regional Youth Development Officers would help with the management of the youth program development and implementation at the regional level. Clearly articulated was the need for further development of youth programs using a Western-Indigenous collaborative approach at the national or regional level. Individual AAROM departments could lead programs specific to their expertise and offer online or in-person courses to youth across the country all by accessing funding under the AAROM Innovation and Collaboration Fund. This could become part of a career development curriculum for a certificate which would assist with experience building in work relevant to AAROM departments and create opportunities for youth to become Ambassadors for AAROM network initiatives. The Ambassadors would share their knowledge in classrooms and with youth groups to bring greater awareness to AAROM network initiatives and principles to the emerging leaders in the communities.