Indigenous Youth Initiative

The Cultch Youth Program Presents, “UnSettled: A journey of our homes on Native land”

Part research, part rehabilitation and a plunge into the relationship with Indigenous and Settler (non-Indigenous) peoples, we will be learning to tell stories on Coast Salish territory. We will be working with Indigenous Artists who will mentor the young people and Australian Theatre makers to help facilitate our young people to reclaim their space in the heart of East Vancouver.

This journey kicks off on June 21, National Aboriginal Day and closes July 23, we will be working every week from Tuesday to Saturday Noon-6pm with 2 story sharing weekends happening July 13-16th and July 20-23rd.No acting, theatre, storytelling experience necessary just the desire to learn more and can commit to these dates. We are able to compensate core participants up to $1500.

If you know or are a young person, Indigenous or a Settler aged 13-24 and

are interested in participating in this project please email and tell her about your interest in the project.




More info below on why, what and how we made this project happen


The bases of why were doing this-ENGAGE

The Cultch is situated in a unique part of the community with a number of Indigenous focused organizations in walking distance, with Native housing 4 blocks away and it’s been given the endearing term ͞the East Van Rez͟ because of its high Indigenous population. Our YPM has established a relationship with an Elder who has greatly impacted IYI and The Cultch’s understanding of its Indigenous connections and responsibilities in the community. One day we were privileged enough to have the Elder do a cedar brushing of the York Theatre our YPM asked why he thought so many Indigenous people gravitated towards this area of town, our Elder responded that he believes that there is an ancient burial ground near the North End of Commercial drive, which is why so many Indigenous people hold space here. 
The Vancouver East Cultural Centre BC Arts Council Youth Engagement Application 2 This incredible insight paired with a very intense cultural cedar brushing ceremony ignited an idea for the IYI and our Youth Program.

We spent a lot of time in the community attending events and understanding where the community is currently at. Our Youth Program Manager (YPM) Kim Harvey attended and continues to attend Indigenous focused events at The Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, The Urban Native Youth Association and Britannia Community Centre to engage and connect with young people and is alarmed at the critically low numbers of Indigenous Youth who have artistic participation in their world view. The major learning outcomes are as followed: there are incredibly high systemic and societal barriers for Indigenous youth to participate in the arts with not nearly enough resources and programs to steward a strong, healthy and safe environment for their active and sustained participation. 

Thus we started the IYI. To give artistic opportunities to Indigenous youth in the East Vancouver area, and beyond and break down those barriers Indiegous youth face on a daily baisis while also teaching and learning about the history and colonialism of this land.


The journey of decolonization is reconciliation; we want to pair that with re-Indigenization, reclamation and we want to give the land back to the Indigenous Youth. We want them to take it over and create on it.

Our Executive Director Heather Redfern had seen a production by a group of Irish teenagers, the Junction Joes for the Clonmel Junction Festival in Tipperary, Ireland, 2015 called Forever Young which is a teenage adventure for adults. Whatever happened to your youthful idealism? Where did it go? Or is it only sleeping?

Those outrageous, brilliant, or just plain silly ideas you had of how the world could become a better place?

Unsettled is a new journey based show - a solo journey where you are never alone – whirled along in the midst of a dynamic, attentive, reflective set of teens, throwing you one to the other, from place to place throughout the city and through your memories, dreams, hopes and losses. Part research, part rehabilitation and part playful plunge into our supposed wisdom, scars, cynicism and reckless dreaming. Go one-to-one with a reclining chair, a team of adolescent experts, and an outdoor foolhardy adventure with teenage accomplices, all there to probe the current pulse of your idealism.

For Phase 2 of the IYI we are going to create the Indigenous Vancouver version of this show in July of 2017. Bringing in Australian Theatre makers from the Company who helped mount the original production, we are going to use the Forever Young format to help our Indigenous Youth and non-Indigenous youth allies reclaim their space in the heart of East Vancouver. We presented this idea to our Youth Panel and our YPM presented the idea to Indigenous Youth in the community and everyone was very excited about the opportunity to tell stories, outside, in their community, on their land. In Phase 1 we brought out practitioners Suzanne Kersten and Julien Rickhart with their producer Richard Jordan for a 5 day intensive in Nov of 2016. We visited the Museum of Anthropology with youth, spent a full Saturday and Sunday learning their artistic approaches and tools to creation work and the youth created 2 pieces in the neighborhood that we shared with one another. We had Mentors Kevin Loring and Sam Bob come and do lunch and learns with the youth to talk about their experiences of being Indigenous performers as well as our Elder Bruce came in a talked about his knowledge of the traditional territory and did a cedar brushing with the group. It was an overwhelmingly powerful experience.

It is our intent to do a full scale production in July with a team of 16 youth, with a minimum of 8 of them being Indigenous creators ages 13-24. The show would run for two weeks, on a 5 day show week with approximately 7 or 8 shows a day. At the heart of Forever Young is the youth. They are the makers, creators, hosts and facilitators. The content is entirely created by the youth and their voices and lived experiences are the foundation of the piece.

More info


Unsettled is part of the create plan for IYI that will be held sometime in June-July, but IYI is an ongoing project as a part of The Cultch, IGNITE! and Youth Panel Programs.

We will offer accessibility and accommodations to Indigenous youth (ages 13-24) with disabilities, who are low income or struggling in any sort of way, which could also mean transportation, scheduling, etc. Whatever you need, we can offer some help. 

Don't hesitate to ask us for any help and support.