Yúusnewas welcomes Kayla Mitchell as the new Program Manager!

YouthCO is very excited to welcome Kayla Mitchell to the position of Yúusnewas Program Manager! Kayla has been part of our team for the past year as the Rural Outreach Educator and will be bringing her skills as a workshop facilitator and experience as an Indigenous youth to continue our work to centre Indigenous teachings as we talk with youth about sexual health and harm reduction.

Here, Kayla shares her thoughts on this opportunity and what she'll be working on as she begins this role! We encourage you to get in touch anytime to learn more about our work or find ways to connect and partner!

I first want to thank YouthCO in supporting and empowering me as a young Indigenous leader in this program. I am so grateful for this opportunity and believe that we are going to be doing some great work in the coming year!

My name is Kayla Mitchell. I am Witsuwit'en from Smithers, BC. I am a member of the Laksilyu (small frog) clan. I use the pronouns She/Her/Hers. 

During my time as a Rural Outreach Educator I had the opportunity to apply my own experiences and perspectives to my work. As Program Manager I plan to continue to centre Indigenous voices and perspectives surrounding topics like sexual health, decolonization, HIV, Hep C, harm reduction, and fighting systems of oppression in our work together. I am so excited for this opportunity to be able to incorporate cultural healing into the work we do.

Throughout this year we will be visiting many communities, spanning across all health authorities! We are so excited to be visiting new nations this year, as well as various local organizations and nations here on Coast Salish territory. If you're interested in having us visit, please let us know! During our time in these communities, we will be sharing our revised workshop curriculum that incorporates Indigenous perspectives to our already great YouthCO curriculum. We are currently developing a new workshop “Taking Care of Communities, Taking Care of Ourselves”. This workshop will focus on harm reduction and responding to an overdose. During this workshop we will talk about traditional teachings around reducing harms to ourselves and community, what that looked like for our ancestors, and do this while applying that knowledge to the current realities many Indigenous people experience.

I am also excited to share that Yúusnewas has an exciting new monthly gathering in the Lower Mainland called “Culture is Healing,” thanks to funding from the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) and the Universities Without Walls program. This program aims to create a safe space for self-identified Indigenous youth up to age 29 to share and learn traditional Indigenous teachings. Our first event will be a “Devil’s Club Medicine/Salve Making Workshop” lead by "Quwut'sun' Made", for Indigenous youth held on September 11th, 2017. During this time we will have food, salve-making supplies, and great conversations around fighting systemic oppression, decolonization, HIV, Hep C, Harm Reduction, and our bodies.

I am so excited for this next chapter in Yúusnewas. I have trust in the Creator to guide me on this journey and to bring good medicine to this program and youth accessing our services!

Misiyh Cho (thank you very much),

Kayla Mitchell

pronouns: she/her/hers

YouthCO's office is located on the unceded traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh people. Our programs take place on unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of many Indigenous nations across what is now called BC.

YouthCO believes that all youth have the right to accessible and affirming information about our health. We also know each of us has a unique relationship to our bodies, sex, sexuality, substance use, and harm reduction. For many of us, the words other people use for our bodies and their functions are not the words we use for ourselves. Throughout our website, YouthCO uses words for bodies and sex that we know will not reflect the full diversity of our communities. We have tried to, where possible, be as expansive with our language as we know how to while being as specific as possible. As youth leading the HIV movement, we too are learning about the best words for our experiences and do not do this perfectly. We invite any feedback about the language used on our website to help us move forward in the best ways for all youth in our communities!