Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A colourful tradition: Their mission: to bolster native, immigrant youth

New 'ambassadors' sell encouragement

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BY launching a group of youth ambassadors, the province hopes to help aboriginal youth and young immigrants feel they have every opportunity to succeed in Manitoba.

Manitoba Immigration Minister Christine Melnick introduced some of the ambassadors during a multicultural concert at The Forks Saturday.

Together, the new ambassadors are on a mission to help young people from visible minorities feel included in the province's social fabric, she said. They're called MYMB (My Manitoba) ambassadors.

"It's important that people know that from the moment their foot touches the rich soil of Manitoba, that they are Manitobans," Melnick said.

The newly formed group includes former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Ibrahim (Obby) Khan, along with 23 other people in their 20s and 30s who will use their experiences to help break down cultural barriers.

About 10 of the 24 attended the event and Melnick called each one to the stage to introduce them.

An audience of more than 100 people attending the afternoon concert to mark Multicultural Day, were on hand for the announcement.

MYMB has a budget of $10,000 this year, intended to cover travel expenses, but the time they give to the work is their own, Melnick said.

She said she hopes the team will continue after this year on its own without provincial funding.

MYMB draws on people from different socio-economic backgrounds and cultures, but their focus is to share the determination they drew on to overcome cultural obstacles and build strong lives for themselves in the province.

The group will attend events hosted by organizations in the province that want presentations to help youth feel at home. So far, they've held sessions in schools in Winnipeg and at locations in The Pas and Fisher Branch.

Team members can be called on to attend events and hold workshops that are tailored to community needs at sport camps, music camps, community centres and other youth gatherings.

More information, including bookings, can be made through a website the province set up for the program at manitoba.ca/mymb.

The province projects that by 2031, more than 25 per cent of Winnipeg's population will be made up of visible minorities.

That includes a growing aboriginal community that will represent 5.3 per cent of the city's population

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 23, 2013 A4

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