Our Guiding Principles
01 — Indigenous & Stó:lō lead
02 — Positive Relationships & Connection 03 — Intensive Individualized Immersion
04 — Culture is everything
05 — Growing in Community
History & Development
Before the Mémiyelhtel program began within the Chilliwack School District (SD33), the 6-year completion rate for Indigenous students was 55%. Achievement data indicated that Indigenous students who successfully stayed in school until Grade 10, often also completed secondary graduation. Consequently, the district’s Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee (AEAC), devised a plan to address the low completion rates of Indigenous learners.
More specifically, a 3-year plan was developed which would implement surplus and target funds to support Indigenous learners. This is where the concept for the program began.
In 2012, Stó:lō Service Agency, made an agreement with SD33 to implement and deliver this program, originally known as Aboriginal Mentorship. Years following, the Ministry for Children and Family Development (MCFD) – Youth Justice – became an official community funding partner. The Mémiyelhtel program also collaborates with various other community supports and services.
The Mémiyelhtel program has been supporting Indigenous youth in Chilliwack for over a decade. To date, the Mémiyelhtel program has supported over 100 youth, representing over 30 different First Nation communities. Through the support of the program, there have been over 40 secondary graduates, with an average graduation rate of 79%.
As the program evolves, we are facing compounding waitlists in upwards of 50 youth and are limited in our resources to meet demands for direct services and much needed program enhancements.
How we Operate
The Mémiyelhtel program is implemented by Stó:lō Service Agency (SSA), in funding collaboration with School District 33 and the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).
It is further supported by our Youth Elders’ Advisory as well as other community partners and supporters. Indigenous youth are referred to the program by community partners and are then assigned an Intensive Support & Resource Worker (ISRW). The ISRW assists with navigation, advocation and liaison for the prevention and/or intervention of presenting risks and challenges. Supports and resources are provided to achieve individualized, age appropriate, healthy, day-to-day functioning.
We work with the following community partners to deliver our services
Chilliwack Community Services · Chilliwack Parks Society · Chilliwack Youth Health Centre · Cyrus Centre · FVACFSS · Pacific Community Resources Society · RCMP · United Way British Columbia · Wilma’s Transition Society
The ovoid is wrapped in cedar bark, one of our sacred medicines and resources. Water is our lifeline – it sustains and heals us; it also symbolizes the intensive and wavering journey. The great ocean canoe signifies the long journey ahead. Our Ancestor is sitting in the canoe, representing their presence in all we do. The raven is the keeper and the guide to brighter days ahead. The sun reminds us of the start of new days and opportunities, the light in the dark. The sacred eagle feather is included to remind us of the Creator and the passing of knowledge from our Ancestors through the generations.
After many years of program implementation, a community – a family – committed to the success and wellbeing of our young people was formed. The naming was to celebrate that community and give it a traditional identity. The team, together with our respected language advisors and Elders, decided on the Halq’emeylem name – Mémiyelhtel – which means ‘to help others’, especially in the context of being well. As is customary in Stό:lō culture, a traditional name cannot be placed on a program alone. The name must be carried by someone who has earned the honour. In 2018, our program hosted a traditional naming ceremony at the Coqualeetza Longhouse, where the name was
placed on two name carriers.
Elyse was an Intensive Support & Resource Worker with Mémiyelhtel for 10 years, since the beginning of the program. Elyse was a critical asset in helping shape the program into what it is today. Elyse is an ally to our Indigenous community, a true model of integrity and humility; a walking example of what truth and reconciliation can look like. Elyse has given her whole heart to the program. When it was time to choose a name carrier for the program, Elyse was an immediate, unanimous decision. She has earned her name by helping dozens of youth build a capacity to love and care for themselves.
Natasha was a youth in the program for 6 years. After graduating, she has taken a strong leadership role as an Alumni. Natasha had a challenging journey in her adolescent years. Through her work with the program, she learned to love herself and explore her culture. She has done some incredible work to bring herself to the healthy place she is in today. Natasha is breaking the cycle in her family and stands today as a proud Indigenous woman with roots from Sts’ailes. We are honoured to have Natasha carry the traditional name, representing the youth.
The Chilliwack Progress
First Nations Health Authority
United Way British Columbia
The Chilliwack Progress