TRURO: Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia has given $13,605 in Community Sparks Grants to seven youth-led, climate change related projects in rural Nova Scotia.

The Community Sparks Grants are designed to support innovative, community-based action, and to empower young people to make a meaningful difference in their region on their own terms. Youth between the ages of 13 and 25 who live in rural Nova Scotia were encouraged to apply for the grants.

Potlotekewaq Maljewe’k Etoqta’tijik (Potlotek Youth Cooks) is a program that will focus on the youth of Potlotek First Nation who are attending Grades 10 through 12.

“This program will provide participants with essential life skills and will teach them how to prepare and cook traditional Mi’kmaw and contemporary foods,” says youth leader Brandi Johnson.

Participants will read recipes both in Mi’kmaw and English and will have the opportunity to use the Mi’kmaw language in real life settings, like community events, traditional gatherings, powwows, and mid-winter feasts.

“The grants are intended empower youth to turn good ideas into direct action on climate change,” said Susan Hirshberg, an early donor to the fund. She noted that youth are often already leaders on climate change issues in their communities and that they are a valuable resource for creativity, energy, and passion to help solve the thorny issues surrounding climate change in Nova Scotia.

RCF has held a training with the grant awardees and other young people who were either hoping to engage in projects in the future or who already had been involved with climate change projects in Nova Scotia. The goal was to answer questions, provide support and to build a community of problem solvers.

“Every generation and every community has its own gifts to bring,” says Hirshberg. “Our real strength is how we can weave them together to support each other.”

“Youth out-migration is a critical issue in rural Nova Scotia,” says RCF Chair Jean Ward. “We need to enable our rural youth to create the future they want right here at home, and to find solutions for urgent local priorities like climate change. Community Sparks Grants are essential to the process.”

Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia (RCF) has been making small grants to rural community organizations since 2004, in an accountable and transparent way. Its grant programs have supported local groups whose work is focused on youth, environment, leadership, seniors, and rural innovation in the province, including Mi’kmaq communities.