Best Practices for Canadian Organizations - International Aboriginal Youth Internships (IAYI) initiative
Recruitment process/eligibility criteria
- Conduct thorough and extensive selection processes:
- Arrange for face-to-face interviews, whenever possible.
- Ask difficult questions to assess interns' mental/physical health, personal background, coping skills, and level of maturity.
- Clarify the candidate's expectations and financial needs/responsibilities.
- Prepare prospective interns for the stresses and commitments involved.
- Invest in networks and outreach within Aboriginal communities.
- Provide options and information about how young parents may participate.
- Refer strong candidates to other organizations after your own recruitment has been completed.
- Locate training in rural and/or Aboriginal community settings.
- Make sure to include the following elements in pre-departure training:
- information on project management and international development;
- in-depth information about the Canadian organizations, host-country, and host organization;
- in-depth language training (preferably continuing throughout the internship);
- expectations for professional conduct, guidelines on acceptable and unacceptable behavior, including repercussions/consequences if expectations are not met;
- cultural sensitivity between interns and (Aboriginal) protocols on non-discrimination;
- financial awareness, including budgeting for the specific country context and expected living expenses; and
- recommended things to pack, visa requirements and the processes for renewing them.
- Involve intern alumni in the training; include an Aboriginal component to the training and have an Elder present to help reduce culture shock.
- Include workshops delivered by Aboriginal service providers (to prevent conflict, isolation, etc.).
- Talk to the interns about their re-entry while they are still in the host country.
- Include strong Aboriginal components, such as Elder ceremonies or feasts.
- Include a considerable amount of downtime in training schedules.
- Favor continuity in the choice of facilitators (from the pre-departure).
- Support interns in the re-entry process and particularly for the shock of not fitting in (not immediately upon return but after they have had a chance to return to their communities). Help interns set goals for integration, and hold immediate check-ins with them upon arrival. After allowing time for reflection when they return to their communities, hold a second debriefing.
Health and safety
- Provide clear guidelines and training on: substance abuse, emergency/safety procedures and contacts, safe travel practices, Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA), political issues in the local context, and extreme weather risks.
- Encourage interns to look out for and support one another.
- Encourage interns to say "no" to situations where health and safety are at risk.
- Pay attention to the safety of the commute between the homestay or place of accommodation and the location of the internship (for example, by avoiding commuting in the dark).
- Address pre-existing mental or physical health conditions and reinforce interns' responsibility for their own health. Be prepared to offer support for interns who are dealing with mental-health issues (e.g. depression, culture shock, anxiety, personal issues). Conduct individual assessments with each intern to ensure that he or she has sufficient resources in the event of an emergency.
- Identify and communicate to interns before departure and upon arrival:
- where and how they may access the Internet;
- the living conditions they will face (such as no access to clean drinking water or washroom facilities, lack of privacy, small space, restrictions on freedom, or living conditions in pre-arranged accommodation);
- accommodation options (keep the host family model as an option for interns, provide choice, and work with the host organization to find the accommodation); and
- the interns' expectations for accommodation and cleanliness.
- Address and prepare interns for the challenges of living with someone else (it may be the first time they are living away from their family).
- Ensure sufficient in-field support (depending on the interns' needs).
- Facilitate introduction into host community and encourage interns, throughout their internships, to share elements of their Aboriginal culture(s).
- To counter the fear of being sent home for having brought any issues to light, clearly outline what does and doesn't constitute grounds for ending a placement.
- Establish direct links of communication between interns and Canadian organizations, preferably face-to-face communication (e.g. Skype, rather than e-mail).
- Plan for and provide interns with in-field access to:
- someone close in age to the interns, whom they may contact in confidence for perspective or moral support;
- an Elder;
- a mentor at the host organization;
- peers, especially fellow IAYI interns in the same country but from other organizations;
- a translator who has been briefed about the host organization and Canadian organization.
- Ensure that a plan is in place to provide stipends to interns in remote areas.
- Assess the needs of the host community and match interns to projects where they are likely to feel they are contributing.
- Ensure that the in-field work is sufficient, meaningful, and manageable for interns.
- Once interns are recruited, work with the interns and host organizations to refine the job descriptions to ensure a good fit between the evolving needs of the organization and the objectives, skills, and needs of the intern (treat work plans and job descriptions as living documents).
- Develop a guide of alternative activities interns can also do; develop a concrete process to ensure that the intern is busy and stimulated; keep work plans flexible and up-to-date.
- Include team-building activities in the placement.
- Develop distinct internship descriptions that require a variety of levels of skills/experience.
- Provide an option for the interns to be placed in an indigenous community.
Community outreach activities
- Encourage interns to start planning community outreach while in-field and provide clear guidelines and objectives.
- Recognize that interns' efforts may be limited in places where access to technology is unreliable.
- Provide practice in community outreach. Work on gaining confidence to share interns' stories. Share success stories to encourage other youth to become interested and be involved in international travel.
- Provide financial support for public engagement.
Promoting collaboration, and engaging Aboriginal youth and communities
- Encourage communication among Canadian organizations throughout the entire internship.
- Increase the role of Aboriginal organizations and communities in Canada; consider alliances or consortiums.
- Organize information sessions for families and interested community members; raise awareness in interns' home communities of the need the interns will have for support before, during, and after their internships.
- Provide ample access to and involvement of Elders throughout the internships (to help transmit key teachings, promote leadership skills, open up lines of communication, and inspire model behaviour).
- Employ IAYI alumni for pre-departure, support, and re-entry activities.
- Date Modified: