Read our Fall Impact Report!

October 25, 2019 Featured, Homepage

As the Fall rain fills the pond at our Downtown Eastside Youth Gardens and the plants retreat back into the soil, EYA youth are busy preparing the gardens for winter: Feeding and mulching the soil, harvesting seeds, and drying leaves to make healing salves and medicinal teas.

This year, EYA began a new collaborative program with Red Fox Society called Seed Generation. The program brought together Indigenous and recent immigrant youth to explore the cultural, medicinal, and ecological significance of native plants. Highlights include camping trips at UBC Farm and 100 Mile House, and an amazing new mural in our Youth Gardens, designed and painted by youth!

Many of the native plants in our gardens and nursery have been used by First Peoples for millennia for food, medicine, and ceremony. With support from our donors, marginalized youth in Vancouver have been able to deepen their connection with nature, learn from both Indigenous and Western knowledge, and play an active role in conserving our environment.

Antonia, a recent immigrant youth from Brazil whose life was touched by our programs, tells her story:

“After the EYA program, I have more hope. I know that I can take care of nature even when I’m in the city.”

Antonia is 17 years old and recently immigrated to Vancouver from a small village in rural Brazil. Just a few months after arriving in her new home, she participated in EYA’s Seed Generation program – a new partnership with Red Fox Healthy Living Society that brings together Indigenous and immigrant youth through land-based learning in the Downtown Eastside.

“I really liked the participation of the Indigenous Elders throughout the whole program,” Antonia reflects. “It was a way of putting the youth in contact with the elements and bringing spiritual meaning to what we are doing here and a different perspective on taking care of the land.”

Learning about native plants and Indigenous land stewardship helped Antonia put down roots in her new Vancouver community: “I liked meeting new people with similar interests. Nature is something that we have in common, even if you think you are so different from someone, the environment is what brings you together.”

Like youth around the world, Antonia feels worried about the environment and her future. Through EYA, she finally felt like she was making a difference: “I care a lot about climate change and joining EYA makes me feel like I’m helping. I feel more connected to the environment, more grounded. I feel a part of something.”

Thanks to support Whole Foods, EYA’s programs are supporting vulnerable youth like Antonia to develop the skills and confidence to become community leaders in our city and take action on environmental issues that affect their lives.

Names changed to protect privacy.