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.