Responsible Indigenous Strategy for Empowerment







R.I.S.E (Responsible Indigenous Strategy for Empowerment) evolved out of ALIVE’s Gen 7 Aboriginal Youth Role Model Program, and is currently delivered in 5 local Community Centres as a partnership between ALIVE, the Vancouver Parks Board and the MoreSport YELL Program.

Leaders are selected based on their demonstrated community leadership, background in arts/culture/recreation and experience working with youth. RISE is one piece of ALIVE’s Reconciliation in Action Strategy.

Each RISE leader is employed as a paid staff through the Vancouver Parks Board. These are well-paying jobs at union rates that can greatly assist participating leaders to support their continuing education in addition to facilitating connections to employers, and building their familiarity with mainstream systems, employee responsibilities, protocols, and practices.

What do RISE leaders do?

RISE leaders work as a team to identify and support other Aboriginal community members and excluded groups to become connected to neighbourhood opportunities and be actively involved in all aspects of city life. They receive support from the RISE coordinator and community centre staff in the implementation of strategic activities in the assigned pilot sites that provide opportunities for intercultural sharing and learning and engage and encourage more extensive and reflective participation.

Each RISE leader brings their own unique strengths, knowledge and experience and the focus of their engagement in the community reflects their individual background and interests. RISE leaders are supported by their supervisor and the RISE coordinator to network and build connections with their community’s youth, and other local area partners and to find areas of interest for community/program development that draw on and enhance their capacities as leaders . RISE leaders run different types of programs in the community including arts & culture, recreation/sports, youth citizenship/leadership or a combination.

Some of the work of RISE includes community consultation, facilitating learning and sharing circles, asset-mapping and other outreach and engagement activities to help centres understand and respond to community-identified priorities.

The 5 Parks Board community centres currently participating in the RISE Program are:

Ray-Cam Community Centre, Britannia Community Centre, Mount Pleasant Community Centre, Hastings Community Centre and Strathcona Community Centre.

Training and Mentorship
Each leader receives on-site mentorship from community centre supervisor(s) as well as weekly check-ins with the RISE coordinator.

RISE leaders also receive regular paid training throughout their placement that is relevant to the work they are doing. This includes:

Group management, supervision, facilitation, physical literacy, asset-mapping/social policy, cultural workshops, program creation, etc…


Aboriginal people are not well-represented in mainstream neighbourhood spaces. Community centres are tax-payer funded municipal institutions with both the resources and the mandate to support/facilitate the process of neighbourhood-level reconciliation. Aboriginal youth are the fastest growing population and have great potential to support reconciliation efforts by pointing the way to the future in their urban communities. In leadership and in staff roles RISE leaders are in a position to influence other centre staff, as well as the focus of centre programming.

We hope this initiative will create a better understanding of the social, economic and cultural assets to be found in the urban Aboriginal community and the importance of involving Aboriginal youth, elders and families in community decisions and opportunities.

 We expect that more Community Centres will sign up to be a part of this initiative, supporting ALIVE to scale out the “reconciliation in action” strategy across Vancouver, neighbourhood by neighbourhood.

 Check out the current RISE team and what they’ve been up to.

If you’re interested in becoming a RISE leader or just want to know more about RISE, send an email to or call 604.257.6949


Indigenous Fashion Show and ReMatriate Dialogue at the VPL

In partnership with the Vancouver Public Library, ReMatriate, the Pacific Association of First Nations Women, All My Relations Entertainment and Changemakers Vancouver RISE leader Joleen Mitton organized a spectacular event at the Main Branch of the Vancouver Public Library as part of the VPL’s Multicultural Day Celebration. 

The Shapeshifter Fashion Show became the highlight of the festivities, and unlike anything the library has ever seen before. The show featured a line up of all Indigenous designers and models and ROCKED the VPL promenade. 

Hands up to the designers: Sho Sho Esquiro/ Nadine Spence/ OKA

 Following the show, Rematriate: What To Wear In A Era of Matriation?” invited the whole community to take part in a cultural experience, exploring the depth of creativity amongst notable Indigenous designers, writers, researchers, traditional and contemporary artists, and advocates. Rematriate was a conversation with: Kelly Edzerza Bapty, Beau Dick, Kwiaahwah Jones, and Lisa Charelyboy to raise awareness about the appropriation of Indigenous Cultural Identities.

The event created a space to fuse art, fashion, culture, music and entertainment together to highlight cultural diversity and promote a new path toward equality. Nice work, Joleen, and the rest of the RISE Team who supported this event!

And thank you to the VPL for the use of this beautiful space!


{gallery}RISE fashion show{/gallery}


RISE and Britannia Offer Cultural Activities for Youth at the Newly Constructed Community Carving Pavilion


RISE leader Laura Lewis is currently working to engage neighbourhood youth in cultural activities at Britannia’s newly constructed Carving Pavilion. This is a great opportunity for intercultural learning and sharing and is open to all youth ages 13-18. Carving, storytelling, arts & crafts, fun games and more! Additional information on schedule of activities to come.


October 22nd, 2014: Province transferring ownership of public lands to non-profits while land claims remain outstanding

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Vancouver BC, October 22nd, 2014  
Province transferring ownership of public lands to non-profits while land claims remain outstanding   
Urban Aboriginals seek respectful place-based strategy to secure social housing on crown land recognized as unceded territory by City of Vancouver.   
Urban Aboriginal residents in Vancouver’s inner city are demanding that the Province of British Columbia immediately end plans to transfer ownership of public assets to unspecified non-profit housing organizations, citing a complete lack of community involvement in the decision making process and a failure to recognize traditional Aboriginal interests in the disposition of crown lands.   
Scott Clark, Executive Director of Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement Society (ALIVE), says the society has been inundated by questions from local residents upset that they have no say in the future of their housing. “Residents and our partners who are working under tremendous challenges to support our most vulnerable children and families firmly believe that we must be consulted to ensure that any devolution process involves all key partners who are committed to building on our existing, evidence-supported, place based approach”, observed Clark.    Continue reading

November 27, 2012: Responding to Inner City Youth at Risk of Suicide

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November 27, 2012

Responding to Inner City Youth at Risk of Suicide

Late last September, a suicide pact was discovered among 30 young people in Vancouver’s Inner City. A coordinated crisis team intervened, admitting 24 to hospital for their own protection. Most of these youth were Aboriginal.

This was not an isolated incident. During the previous spring and summer, groups of young people – primarily 12 and 13 years old — had been drinking to blackout, with a number treated for alcohol overdose at Children’s Hospital.

The youth admitted to hospital in September were fully assessed and wellness plans were put in place. Upon release from hospital, most of the youth went back to drinking. Since then, a few have individually attempted suicide and some have become involved in violent events.

Our children are still very much at risk and we are dismayed at the tepid level of longterm response from those mandated by various systems to care for our youth. The fast approaching holiday season – a time known to increase risk of suicide — will only add to their vulnerability.

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May 14, 2015: It’s Time to Care About Our Children

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For Immediate Release                       

May 14, 2015


It’s Time to Care About Our Children


Today B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth has released yet another report detailing the unnecessary and tragic death of a child. Sadly, this report once again chronicles the abject failure of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and its designated agencies and service partners, to provide protection to a child in need. There is nothing new here. These findings echo many other reports previously released by the Representative’s Office: When Talk Trumps Service, Lost in the Shadows, On Their Own, to name just a few.

Today we have been provided with a full investigation of how Paige, a young person in our community, died.  We are hearing of systems that failed to respond, ignored the lived reality of this child, and failed to embrace or explore the supports and options that could have provided a different outcome. This report documents that in the last years of Paige’s life these service systems dismissed attempts by relatives and community groups to change the trajectory the professionals were facilitating. Both official systems and collaborating service partners willfully ignored her downward spiral, passively documenting her descent. This failure ended with her death.

This tragedy strikes close to home. Paige was known and loved by many in this community. So for us there is anger, there is grieving, and there is horror at how this young girl’s life was lived. There is the guilt and self-questioning, wondering if we could have, should have done more.

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