The 4Rs Youth Movement began as a seed of an idea after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission began its work in 2014. Indigenous youth quickly assumed leadership and identified their goal: youth-led opportunities for solidarity building across the diversity of young people in so-called canada, including Indigenous, settler, refugee, and migrant folx.
4Rs stands for respect, reciprocity, reconciliation, and relevance.
Over the past decade, the grassroots movement has remained committed to centering Indigenous young people’s voices and actions in the work around right relations and decolonization. Their work has involved showing up unapologetically as Indigenous young people, disrupting places of colonial power, advocating at all regional and national levels for Indigenous peoples, and hosting healthy spaces that support leadership and wisdom. With years of deep, slow and relational work, 4Rs has been witness to the influence and power that young people hold in creating and modeling right relations while also helping to support young people to reconnect to their identities.
After its formative years and a number of different youth gatherings, 4Rs started to nurture a learning community that supported the capacity of Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people to lead decolonization work in their own communities and soon came to realize how under-resourced Indigenous, youth-led reconciliation work is. “Indigenous young people have such little faith in the work of reconciliation because it’s been co-opted by settlers so we really look to the youth to define what this looks like” explains Executive Director, Jess Bolduc, and this reality resulted in another transition for the organization. 4Rs turned to granting to directly support Indigenous young people and racialized allies doing the work they deemed important in their communities.
Recognizing the incredible need for wellness and decentering whiteness, 4Rs is now starting to focus on healing justice and addressing grief and trauma at community and systems levels. “We decided to just give money to young people who are advancing healing justice in their communities, however they want to define it,” Jess says. Whether they call it reconciliation or decolonization or healing justice, it’s up to them to define and connect within their communities.
Deeply committed to remaining relevant, 4Rs is prepared to continue iterating to support young leaders and spaces for learning, sharing, and co-creating. One of the ways they’re doing that is through a documentary film about Indigenous youth and narrative sovereignty. The film looks at movement building by Indigenous young people through social media and celebrates identity, community, and belonging.
4Rs addresses the TRC Call to Action #66: We call upon the federal government to establish multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation, and establish a national network to share information and best practices.
Mission + Vision + Values
The work of 4Rs is about centering the needs and role Indigenous young people play in moving forward reconciliation between individuals, communities & systems in Canada. Together, we are building our capacity to take action on reconciliation in ways that are relevant to Indigenous young people, reimagining the process through the lens of self determination, critical dialogue and systems change. Our hope is to grow our collective capacity and strategically weave together networks of awesome people, organizations and movements contributing to a healthier ecosystem for young people engaging in decolonization & reconciliation work.