Diamond Willow Youth Lodge

Almost 45% of the Indigenous population in Calgary is under the age of 25—and these youth will play a vital role in advancing the future political, social, and economic landscape of our city.

But many Indigenous youth face unique, complex social challenges that stem from suppressed culture, identity, and spirituality. These complex challenges have had devastating outcomes—for example, Indigenous youth suicide rates are five to seven times higher than non-Indigenous youth.

To help urban Indigenous youth deal with the impact of trauma, United Way partnered with Pathways Community Services to develop the Diamond Willow Youth Lodge—a welcome and inclusive gathering place for Indigenous youth to connect with peers and build positive, informal relationships with Elders in a safe setting. Youth-led and youth-driven, the lodge empowers youth voices to be heard, and helps create a space for which they feel a sense of pride and ownership. By providing culturally-appropriate healing practices and activities, the Lodge promotes self-discovery, Indigenous identity, and well-being, and allows Indigenous youth to lead or participate in reconciliation.

The Diamond Willow Youth Lodge engages urban Indigenous youth on a path of healing and well-being to promote truth and reconciliation. It is a place where hope and sense of belonging are instilled.

Lodge Activities

The Diamond Willow Youth Lodge is led by a youth coordinator, the Indigenous Youth Steering Council, and youth participants. Indigenous youth helped design the space to claim it as their own and base it on the needs and interests of participants. Besides being used as a social setting for youth to relax and spend quality time with peers, the lodge is also used for youth-driven activities such as:

  • Connecting to Elders
  • Healing and well-being supports
  • Indigenous cultural awareness teachings
  • Mental health and addictions resources
  • Relationship building opportunities
  • Youth leadership courses
  • Skill building and employment preparation
  • Language classes
  • Indigenous art classes, drumming circles, and beading sessions
  • Recreation opportunities
  • Connection to programs and services offered by partner organizations such as Alberta Health Services, Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Calgary Public Library

The activities meet the wholistic needs of the youth’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being, which engages them on a healing path by strengthening their Indigenous identity and creating a sense of belonging and connection.

Meet Princess, and Johnny

– local youth changing lives through the Diamond Willow Youth Lodge

Jesse VickeryDiamond Willow Youth Lodge