In this section:

Special Projects

In addition to reading about the projects below, you can view some videos youth have been involved with by clicking here.

Online & Connected to You!
This year we were excited to launch our new e-newsletter which allows us to stay in touch with all of our supporters and to reach new people.  Please check out our previous editions (in pdf) and sign up for future newsletters here.

A New Era - July
After almost 8 years, our Executive Director Lynda Gray decided to leave UNYA in order to pursue many of her other goals. We know that we will stay in contact and wish her all the best.

UNYA celebrates 25 years of service to Native youth - May
In May of this year, UNYA hosted a community gathering at the York Theatre to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work of UNYA, our staff, volunteers, partners, funders, and youth who all make it possible for us to serve urban Native youth.
Native Youth Health & Wellness Centre - Opening in 2015!
This year we developed a unique partnership with many supporters to work towards opening a Native Youth Health & Wellness Centre at UNYA in order to meet the unique needs of Native youth who are not as well connected to health services as they should be and do not have access to culturally appropriate health services outside of the Downtown Eastside.  In June we were very excited to hear that we were successful in obtaining funding for a Nurse Practitioner that will be based out of UNYA in the new year.  

Grandview Woodlands Community Input - April
UNYA was involved in the community planning initiatives happening in the Grandview Woodlands Neighbourhood as this is where we are situated and where most Native people live. 


MVAEC Child, Youth & Family Forum - March

UNYA was proud to help plan and carry out a community forum with the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council’s (MVAEC) Children, Youth & Families Table. We wanted to hear from Native community members in Vancouver about what they think is important for MVAEC and its 24 member organizations to focus on in helping to strengthen the overall Native community. Information about the forum can be found on the MVAEC website by clicking here.

UNYA’s 1st Ever Youth Leadership Camp - March

After hosting workshops and gathering lots of input from Native youth about what they think is important in leadership development for Native youth, we hosted a three-day retreat at Zajac Ranch. Youth and staff participated in many team building activities, workshops, outdoor activities, and sharing circles where we learned a lot about, and from, each other. We have begun incorporating some of the workshops into our regular programming to ensure this important work carries on. We look forward to hosting another leadership retreat in 2014!

Talking Stick Festival Partnership - February

This year we partnered with Full Circle: First Nations Performance to host a Spoken Work Master Class with Zaccheus Jackson who has won many spoken word competitions and is a great advocate for youth voice. They also sent over Gillian Thomson from Sister Says to help with voice lessons with UNYA’s Overly Creative Minds (OCM) Program. More info on Full Circle can be found by clicking here.

Indigenous Youth Wellness Project – ongoing

We are partnering with the Aboriginal Initiatives Program at Provincial Health Services Association to develop a PHSA Indigenous Youth Wellness Project which will build upon their very successful online Indigenous Cultural Competency Training Course. We are one of many sites from around the province that will work with youth ages 12-15 to help empower them through a similar model to help improve their overall health and well-being.

Truth & Reconciliation Commission National Event - September

Many UNYA staff and youth attended the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada's national event in Vancouver to find out more about the diverse impacts of the Indian Residential School in the Native community and beyond. Our schools attended the school education day, 60 of our staff attended on the opening day, and many of us also participated in the Walk for Reconciliation which saw over 70,000 dedicated and caring individuals march in the pouring rain. The walk was hosted by our local organization Reconciliation Canada. One of our vendors graciously made us ‘I support reconciliation’ tshirts at cost so that youth could be seen and be a part of a larger group during the march.

Change of Seasons Boards - Ongoing

This year we are focusing on bringing more attention to, and information about, the change of seasons to Native youth so that they can understand and fully appreciate the meaning of the change of seasons and solstice. Once we get enough information, we will likely be producing Change of Seasons posters to complement our Medicine Wheel poster set.

Raising Awareness
This year we developed a bulk email list to send out e-newsletters, notices about programs and events, and to stay connected with the community. We also added new signage to the front of our building so that youth can spot us from across the street, we added a digital screen downstairs so passerbys can see what’s inside our building, we are reaching more youth via our facebook page, and we updated our website to make it easier to find things.



Sisterwork: Agents for Change

We are very grateful to the young women who helped us to create fantastic anti-violence resources through our Sisterwork Project!  This generosity and bravery cannot be understated or undervalued.  Together, they created an original song, videos, bracelets, and a series of three powerful posters.  Their important work will help to encourage open dialogue about this important issue, and ultimately lead to less violence in our community.

Check out these beautiful posters here:

 UNYA Sisterwork poster - Use Your Voice

Use Your Voice        Violence is Not Our Tradition        End Lateral Violence

Limited copies of these posters are now available to Native youth and community organizations.  In mid-July, copies produced by UNYA will be available for sale.  Contact us for more info!

Joy Harjo Shares Her Experience - March

UNYA and the young women in our Sister Work Project were happy to welcome reknowned poet, actress, and musician Joy Harjo to UNYA.  Joy visited with the young women for many hours talking, sharing, and canoeing. 

Talking Stick Festival - February

This year we expanded our partnership with Full Circle during thier annual Talking Stick Festival.  Young Native artists visited our two schools, MAC, and OCM programs to share thier talents, enthusiasm, and knowledge of traditional and contemporary arts and music with youth.  Activities included voice lessons, spoken word/slam poetry, and music.


Circle of Courage Training - July

Dr. Martin Brokenleg held a one day training session on the Circle of Courage for 125 community members as a fundraiser for our Young Wolves Lodge Transition Worker.  Thanks Dr. Brokenleg for your ongoing support and generosity!

Laptops for Native Youth

We were fortunate again this year to partner with Sky's the Limit to help Native youth obtain refurbished laptops through our Native Youth Learning Centre to help them in their job search and/or school work.

Youth Art  

Youth in our Music, Arts & Culture (MAC) Program created many pieces of art that are now being displayed in BC Ministry for Children & Family Development (MCFD) offices across the province.

A Piece of Me

Our OCM Program hosted an exhibition of artworks by urban Native youth which was inspired by a piece in the collections at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, each student in the Native Youth Program and OCM Program created their own artwork.  The resulting work reveals the diverse identities the students have carved out for themselves, and the strength they have gained in the process.  Collaboratively presented by the UBC Museum of Anthropology and UNYA's OCM Program.


Rookie Radio - March

A partnership with the Brooke Forbes Legacy Fund and CBC Vancouver led to 3 Native youth participating in the CBC Rookie Radio Program where they learned about radio, journalism, and performance aspects of radio broadcasting including using a sound board and microphones, interviewing, editing, and on-air reporting.  Youth had the opportunity to produce their own radio piece in an area that is of interest to them, and the CBC team helped them to develop and produce the story or interview that was presented on air in March 2011.


Parenting Booklet: BALANCE
Our newest resource is a parenting booklet for Native youth which we believe includes many important things that can help to raise healthy, happy children.  BALANCE stands for:  Belonging, Activity, Learning, Acknowledgement, Nurturing, Compassion, and Engagement.  We are always creating new booklets and other resources for Native youth. Please visit our Resources page to view and download our health, recipe and resource books for free.
Youth Film Screening – March
UNYA hosted "Our Stories, Our Identities," the youth film tour of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Youth Film Festival.  With creativity and courage, youth shared their unique stories and experiences through short films exploring the strength of culture and positive Aboriginal identity, staying off drugs and alcohol, two-spirit identities, experiences in foster care, and other challenges they have overcome as they make their way in the urban environment.   
Anti-Violence Video

K'wam K'wum Q'ulumuy' (Strong Young Women) is a 10 minute educational anti-violence video made by 5 young women with UNYA and our partners.  The video was developed in partnership with the BCWCH Aboriginal Program and is available in limited quantities to schools, organizations, and others working on this issues. 

Cree Language Classes

We partnered with UBC to offer free Cree language classes here at UNYA at no cost.  We are very excited to be able to offer this unique opportunity to youth. 

Education Capacity Cafes

We have been hosting community meetings to provide Native youth with a safe place to talk about ways that their educational experience can be improved within the Vancouver School Board.  We pass on this information to help the VSB to better meet the needs of Native youth.  The Cafes happen twice a year.


Back to School Backpacks

This year, we were thrilled to partner with the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre to ensure Native youth had access to backpacks with basic supplies to start their school year right.  We also were able to put together 20 more backpacks for youth 18 – 24 who were in need.  

Block Printing Workshop

Favianna Rodriguez of Justseeds Artists’ Collective and the Eastside Arts Alliance (Oakland, CA) lead a workshop on the historical context of linoleum block printing as agit prop, along with practice in the techniques needed to produce linoleum block prints without studio facilities or expensive equipment.


Howling at the Moon Benefit Concert - August 

On August 26th, we held a fundraising concert featuring Murray Porter, Shona Le Mottee w/Tim Readman, and Skeena Reece.  There was also a silent auction, dinner, 50-50 draw, Howling at the Moon contest, and much dancing.  This fun-filled event raised $9,614. Thank you to all the volunteers, sponsors, and donors who made it such a great success!

Creative Transportation Solutions

PEDAL and Our Community Bikes help multiple sessions with youth to teach them how to build and repair bikes.  At the end of the sessions, youth were able to keep the bike that they had built!

Maoris In the House - June

In June, we welcomed twelve Maori students who were visiting Vancouver to find out more about our local ways of doing community development and youth work. They shared their songs and dances and our Young Women’s Drum Group shared a few songs.

Art Shows May and Art / Fashion August 

Our Music, Arts & Culture (no longer operating) Program hosted art shows, talent nights, and other fun activities. 

Keep Them Coming Back For More - April

We partnered with a University of BC First Nations Masters candidate to work with Native youth to help her gain insight into the experiences of youth participating in Aboriginal youth organizations in Vancouver.  Youth gave input on successful education initiatives and Indigenous Knowledge.  Her work culminated in a community exhibit and celebration held in April.  Over 40 people attended to hear Amy Parent present an overview of her thesis work. Download the community report here.

Pacific Curls – February

We partnered with the Talking Stick Festival to host a workshop for youth with Pacific Curls, a Maori/Pacific Island group.  Everyone had a great time doing the team-building activities.

Olympic Legacy – January/February

We partnered with Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas on an Olympic legacy project that was made using reclaimed car parts, including the hood from our van that was heading to the car cemetery!  The final products included 'Take Off', a large Thunderbird sculpture at UBC, and a functional, contemporary, copper-plated drum for UNYA.

Photovoice - January

We partnered with a University of Massachusetts First Nations Masters candidate to create a PhotoVoice project with youth, which culminated in a community exhibit and celebration held in January.  Over 175 people attended to hear Robin Gray and youth participants present their work.  W2 Community Media Arts filmed the event, and created a youtube video featuring youth. Click here to watch a video of the event.

Dialogues Project – All Year

UNYA’s Executive Director became a member of the City of Vancouver’s Dialogues between First Nations, Urban Aboriginal and Immigrant Communities in Vancouver Advisory Committee which is working towards fostering better understanding between our communities.  


Youth Forums - November

We hosted four youth forums in Vancouver to share info about UNYA and find out what youth think is needed in the areas where they live and hangout.    

Crystal Shawanda - August

Country music star Crystal Shawanda visited UNYA and the Friendship Centre to share a few songs with the local community. Crystal shared ten songs, signed and posed for pictures, and was a welcome summertime visitor. Thanks Crystal for staying connected to the community.

Seeing is Believing Tour 

UNYA hosted the Seeing is Believing Tour twice in 2008.  Many CEOs from various companies learned about what we do, Native youth strengths and challenges, and how they can partner with us to progress in our work.  

Juno Awards - July

The Native Youth Centre Capital Campaign Committee was proud to offer gift bags to the amazing Aboriginal nominees for the Juno Awards in Vancouver in 2009.  

Just Therapy - May

We partnered with VACFSS and MCFD to host a staff training session with the Just Therapy Team from New Zealand.  This team focuses on the social justice aspects of a person’s life and how those either negatively or positively affect their well-being.  

Supporting Our Sisters Conference - March

Our Alcohol & Drug Counsellors hosted the Supporting Our Sisters Conference to raise awareness about sexual exploitation, self-care, and how to better support women who are involved in, trying to leave, or have left the sex trade. 

Violence Prevention Toolkit Workshop - February

We partnered with the Native Women's Association of Canada to launch thier Violence Prevention Toolkit through an all day workshop that was open to the community.  


National Aboriginal LGBTQT Summit

UNYA was proud to welcome 130 delegates from across Canada in April 2008 to the National Aboriginal GLBTQT Summit. Delegates included GLBTQ/Two-Spirit, families, service providers, allies, and policy makers who came together to help bring light to the important health issues of Aboriginal GLBTQT individuals, as well as cultural roles within traditional First Nations communities.

All Our Relations Mural

Youth from our two schools, Aries & Cedar Walk, worked with Andrew Dexel to create an awesome mural on the back of our building as a way to let youth claim ownership of the building and beautify the alley.


Training the Leaders of Tomorrow

1618 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V5L 1S6 Call: (604) 254-7732 Email: