Oẏateki Partnership Seeks to Transform Education and Employment Systems for Indigenous Youth

More than 400 Indigenous youth participated in the launch of the Oẏateki Partnership, learning how this unique new collaboration with EleV will support their pathways through post-secondary education and on to meaningful livelihoods. Held at Wanuskewin Heritage Park near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in Canada, the launch brought together three post-secondary institutions to collaborate with Indigenous young people and communities to transform education, employment, and training in the province. 

Supported by the Mastercard Foundation’s EleV Program the partnership between the Gabriel Dumont Institute(GDI), the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), and the University of Saskatchewan (USask), will strengthen and advance systems change in education and employment, to support Indigenous youth. This is especially significant because Indigenous youth are the fastest growing population in Canada, with Saskatchewan being home to a large number of Indigenous people, more than half of whom are under the age of 25. 

Through this partnership, all three post-secondary institutions have committed to taking bold actions, alongside Indigenous youth, to set the strategic direction to improve opportunities in education and employment. This will enable Indigenous young people to prosper and thrive, while being agents of change for their communities. “Oẏateki really makes us the leaders. They make us feel like we matter,” says Chante Speidel, a member of the Oẏateki Partnership Youth Advisory Circle and a USask student. “As a Youth Advisory member, I think it is really important that I get to know and relate to all the young people who are here.” 

Chante Speidel, Youth Emcee

Chante Speidel, a member of the Oẏateki Partnership Youth Advisory Circle and a University of Saskatchewan student

Oẏateki is a Dakota word meaning: all people together and leaving no people behind. “When I was asked to think of a name, I said, I am going to keep it simple,” says Kunsi Connie Wajunta of Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation, who gifted the Dakota name to the partnership. “It means everybody. Everybody around you.” Oẏateki sets an inspiring vision of working collaboratively and nurturing sustainable, supportive pathways for all in the future. 

Committed to supporting 32,000 First Nations and Métis youth on their path to post- secondary education and on to fulfilling work, the Oẏateki Partnership seeks to create more dynamic, integrated, ‘wholistic’, and responsive education and employment systems. The goal is to meet the needs of Indigenous youth and involve them directly in decision-making.  

This partnership work is part of the Foundation’s commitment to advance financial inclusion and education in Africa and transform education and employment systems for Indigenous youth in Canada.