Canada and Australia IEC exchange: work and travel abroad

My name's Sean.

I'm from Australia.

I'm in Canada, working with Northern Youth Abroad.

So, I'm here on an exchange program.

My name is Mikaela.

I'm a Dene Inuvaliut woman from the North of Canada.

I'm here, in Australia, on an IEC program, working for AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) for the summer.

My name's Rebecca Bisson, and I'm the Executive Director with Northern Youth Abroad (NYA).

We work with youth who live in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, predominantly Indigenous youth.

About 98% of our participants are Indigenous: Inuit, First Nation and Métis.

We offer experiential education programs for youth 15 to 23 living in the communities.

About a year ago, we were introduced to AIME as a partner organization, through IEC, and proposed the idea of doing Indigenous alumni internship exchange, essentially.

My name's Ben Abbatangelo.

I'm the co-CEO of AIME.

We're excited about harvesting Indigenous knowledge and leadership from different parts of the world, and this is going to be a great program to do just that.

So, we were able to select Mikaela, who is currently in Sydney, and to welcome Sean here with us for 4 months.

My position with AIME is a program manager, and I basically do all the behind-the-scenes things for program days and tutor squads and just making sure all the odds and ends are done up.

A program day at AIME is essentially the kids coming onto the campus, and we have mentors from the university who volunteer their time to do sessions and activities with the kids, getting them out of their comfort zone and just being proud of their Indigenous identity.

I'm a mentor leader with AIME, and my role involves organizing the program days, running tutor squads within each high school.

My experience here with NYA has completely just blown me away.

Like, in the job I'm working in here, it's kind of similar to what I do at home.

So, I've picked up a few more tips for mentoring youth.

It is a lot of hard work, but you also need to be able to have fun with it and really enjoy the experience.

Working and travelling in Australia has totally taught me how to be more independent.

I had to do a lot of things on my own and just navigating and planning, you know, going on my trips and stuff like that.

I was all alone, and [it was] kind of the first time I ever did them, and it really taught me that I could be my own person.

Being here for 3 months without anyone from back home has been a massive change for me.

I haven't been away from home for any longer than about 3 weeks by myself.

So then, definitely to come this far across the world, to be alone, by myself, it's been a life-changing experience I've really enjoyed.

I didn't know much about the Indigenous people of Australia before arriving here.

A lot of struggles that we face as Canadians also happen to Australians, but I also got to learn a bit of their culture and way of life and how they hunt, and we are very similar than we are different.

Coming and working with NYA, just learning about Nunavut and Northwest Territories has been a crazy experience for me.

I literally had no idea about the youth and the people from those communities.

A big thing that's struck me is how little I know about my own Indigenous culture back home.

So, I thought I was very well educated on it, but I've learned a lot here.

I want to go back and learn about my own culture now.

Working for AIME will definitely open more doors for me back home; they already have.

I actually got a job with International Experience Canada as a youth ambassador to promote their program and tell my story – when I'm back home – to youth, and that's a really good fit, I feel, because that's all I want to do is tell my story and inspire other youth to go and do their own journey.

So, next for me is I'm going home, and I go straight back into work the week I get back.

So, I'll be back at the high school I work at, working in student support.

And, I'll be back with AIME, so back mentoring 2 days a week as well.

The plan is to come back next year, to do the same thing, so I'll be in Ottawa again, working with Northern Youth Abroad.

It's been the most phenomenal experience I've ever had.

I found that leaving my community really allowed me to take a step back and appreciate it fully.

I strongly believe other people should take the opportunity through IEC.

You gain so much and learn so much about yourself.

Learning about the people here.



the people is what I love the most about Canada, so that's one of the main reasons why I will come back to Canada.

So, I think it's important for youth to go and experience other countries and to get to know other people because it's very different to back home, no matter where you're from.

♫ ♫.

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