The Indigenous Youth, Art and Water Initiative – Fall 2023 Update

The Indigenous Youth, Art and Water Initiative (IYAWI)—the first phase of the Indigenous Water Allyship—has completed its outreach for applications from organizations, and 31 applications were received and carefully reviewed.  

The five-member jury selected the nine strongest applicants, who will receive a grant of $50,000 to create meaningful social art projects in their communities. The nine successful applicants represent a diverse and widespread selection, located across British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, and each organization has selected a leader to participate in project-related activities with other Young Indigenous Ambassadors. Each ambassador identifies as Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, or Métis), and is between the ages of 18 to 35 years old. 

Each ambassador will be creating a social art project, including murals, digital media, songs, music, storytelling, photovoice, carving, and exhibitions. Each social art project aims to drive positive change for different water issues—water pollution and contamination, industry, dams, mines, agriculture runoff, sewage runoff, water insecurity, unsafe drinking water, boil water advisories, inadequate water quality data, aquatic invasive species, and climate change, to name several. 

Before diving into their projects, the ambassadors and representatives from sponsor organizations will come together for the Initial Youth Indigenous Ambassador Gathering, set for November 20 to 23, at the University of Calgary Barriere Lake Field station – Biogeoscience Institute in Alberta. The initial gathering will include various methods of leadership capacity development, including workshops on social art, storytelling, hands-on experience with experts in videography, participation in discussions regarding applicants’ projects, and reporting impacts. 

IYAWI is a meaningful partnership between CIER, the One Drop Foundation and partners from the private sector to help support Indigenous communities in Canada. This support by helping to improve living conditions and health through water and art. IYAWI seeks to engage Indigenous Youth in creating an impactful social art project in response to water-related issues and inequalities in Canada. For more information: