Youth Advisory Committee
The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) was formed in 2010 and consists of 12 youth in or from VACFSS care. The committee was formed to ensure that youth not only have a voice in their own care, but also in the larger care system that is designed to support them. The YAC also ensures that VACFSS holds a youth voice, and its policies and initiatives are informed by young people who have experienced care. The youths’ goal is to have every young Indigenous leader journey successfully from care into community. YAC is also committed to improving social work practice, and to continually developing their leadership and advocacy skills. The YAC holds interviews every year for two new members to join the committee; youth must be 16 years or older to apply!
The committee is made up of young Indigenous leaders with dynamic energy and passions as advocates, leaders, artists, and knowledge holders, who receive guidance from a range of family members, Elders, peers, and social workers. Within the care system, YAC members walk alongside social workers, Elders, and policy makers as mentors who guide them in best practices with children and youth. Each YAC member brings forth a unique set of skills and strengths that has led to the participation in a number of public speaking experiences, including workshops, conference presentations, keynote speeches, and other community engagement projects. Members of YAC have traveled nationally and internationally to speak, including presentations at conferences in Australia, Norway, and Taiwan. The YAC also engages with other youth advisories, including the provincial MCFD YAC, to plan events, participate in collaborative advocacy, and provide mentorship.
Our young, Indigenous leaders have advocated for the inclusion of youth voice within the care system through the creation and amendments to policy, the development and implementation of cultural programming, and the promotion of the rights of children in care, among other initiatives. YAC members are dedicated to the work they do as young leaders in the community, as they are passionate about making positive changes for Indigenous children and youth in care and creating space for youth voices. Our youth enjoy meeting with other Indigenous groups and peoples and learning about others’ experiences of colonization and their resistance to it. Colonial policies and practices have impacted and continue to impact Indigenous peoples from all over the world, thus the work that the VACFSS YAC engage in is educational, cultural, and includes acts of resistance.
Every young Indigenous leader journeys successfully from care into community.
YAC ensures that youth have a voice in their own care and that the whole care system that is designed to represent them.
Coast Salish from Beecher Bay Nation Member since: 2018
I joined YAC to be a part of something, to make new friendships and also to have my own voice. YAC is important to me because youth that are involved get to speak out and acknowledge important topics that need to change.
My favourite part about YAC is continually getting the chance to meet new people and to make friends. It’s always nice and I’m glad I joined.
My hobbies include acting, photography, editing, being outside.
I joined YAC because I heard that it was a great place to use my voice. Growing up I was always very outspoken and my social worker suggested YAC as a place to meet new people and work on interesting projects like videos.
YAC has been a space for me to meet other former youth in care, creating a community of support. I have also learned a lot about child welfare and important things to advocate for. YAC has given me a strong sense of reciprocity, knowing that my voice is changing the system. It is also a great opportunity to network with other people, organizations and advocates.
My favourite part of YAC is the amazing opportunities to travel and public speak as well as having close friendships and mentoring new members.
My interests are working with youth, photography, movies and video games.
Member since: 2010
Human Resources Senior Member
I joined the Youth Advisory Committee because there were problems I wanted to change or fix.
YAC is important because we advocate for the rights of children and youth who are in care. We strive to make the care system better for everyone in foster homes. We share the voices of every youth and child and that is something remarkable and ongoing.
The discussions that take place during our monthly meetings are my favourite part about YAC because I love seeing everyone engaging and speaking about their ideas. It’s amazing how much dialogue is transferred between us and it shows we are passionate about what we do.
I love reading, writing, watching movies and hanging out with friends and family.
Dene/Saulteaux from Cold Lake
I joined YAC after hearing lots of positive things about it from my social worker.
YAC gives a sense of community to those from similar backgrounds as me: Indigenous youth in and from care who may not have found a place to fit in. It gives us a platform to voice our concerns regarding the system, and the ability to implement change directly.
Personally, it has been transformative getting in touch with my culture through YAC. Growing up I didn’t really know much about myself as an Indigenous woman and it wasn’t until I joined YAC that I learned the importance of my role as an Indigenous youth from the care system.
I like to write and read, as well as spend time with friends and family.
Nuxalk Nation and Philippines
My name is Orlene Andy, I am from the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola and from the Philippines, but I was born and raised in the lower mainland. I have been a part of YAC for 3 and a half years.
I joined YAC because I wanted to work on my personal advocacy and help to change the foster care system for future generations. YAC is important because it helps to include youth voices who have had previous foster care experiences to help change policies and practices within the system. My favourite part of YAC is being able to help make a change for future children’s lives so they can have an equal chance at life just like everyone else. YAC also has other opportunities such as travelling internationally, learning to build skills, networking that can lead to more exciting opportunities, and so much more!
My hobbies and interests include some of the following; writing, advocacy, Netflix, learning about psychology, and hanging out with friends.
I joined It was a valuable life experience for me to develop my public speaking skills. YAC is important to assist youth in care to have the best possible experience they can have in care, as well as being a voice for them to VACFSS and other organizations. My favourite part of YAC is the opportunity to go on trips places.
My interests are gaming and animals, especially dogs and cats.
Cree-Salteaux and Mohawk-Ojibwe
Hi all, my name is Teka Desjarlais, I am Cree-Saulteaux from Fishing Lake Nation from my mother’s side and I am also Mohawk-Ojibwe from Red Rock Nation from my father’s side. I am 20 years old and I’m a senior member on the Youth Advisory Committee. I’ve been on YAC for over 5 years!
Being on YAC has allowed me to deeply understand the inner workings of the Child Welfare System (aka. Foster Care). We get to meet with Ministers and Policy Makers within the Provincial Government and have discussions with them regarding the needs of children and youth still in care. We meet folks in the community to discuss what needs aren’t being met and advocate to make sure they do get met.
YAC is important because it ensures that the system of care is shaped by the folks who have experienced it. My favourite part of being on the YAC are the many relationships I’ve made with the many people I get to meet. I especially cherish the relationships I’ve made with my colleagues on YAC.
In my free time, you can find me sketching away in my notebook around Mundy Park or Deep Cove enjoying an Earl Grey tea.