"Providing a platform for youth at the intersection of various identities and then hearing them express that the conference felt like a homecoming, has meant the world to me." - Vibya Natana
Name: Vibya Natana
Profession: Organizing Committee Member: Representative of the SSYC Regina
Non-Profit Organization: South Sudanese Youth of Canada (SSYC)
Good morning! We hope you all had a fantastic summer holidays. To those who are going back to school this fall we wish you all a successful academic year.
In today’s exclusive feature interview we have with us a group of young South Sudanese-Canadians from the SSYC organization. In 2018, they collectively came together to form a national organization as a platform to help establish a diverse and strong base of youth leaders across the country, to support, contribute to not only the South Sudanese community but Canadian society at large. It’s a non-profit organization which led by South Sudanese youth (SSY) of various socioeconomic backgrounds. The SSYC strives to provide communities with the infrastructure and support necessary to achieve its purpose.
We are honoured to have one of their committee member Vibya Natana to discuss how the journey of SSYC has been this far. Plus, you get full detail information on their upcoming projects and how you can get involve in supporting the SSYC organization thrive. Please help us welcome the representative of SSYC Vibya Natana.
Tell us about yourself ( short bio)
From the mid-80’s to early 2000s immigrants arrived in Canada from Sudan for various reasons including political instability. Since then, South Sudanese community leaders have been working together to connect with other South Sudanese immigrants to preserve their heritage, culture and support each other in successfully integrating into Canadian society. However, these initiatives have largely been directed towards South Sudanese adults and specific tribes within Canada. Less effort has been placed on directly addressing the concerns of South Sudanese youth who immigrated to Canada or who were born in Canada, and who also face issues involving integration into Canadian society and developing their multifaceted identities. Due to these unaddressed concerns, youth from this community may have faced adversity in their academics, social engagement, and overall adjustment to Canadian society. SSYC was founded collectively by the following youth to tackle these challenges and empower youth to create positive change within the community:
Andrew Lokiden (Edmonton, AB)
Athiang Makuoi (Edmonton, AB)
Benjamin Clement (Vancouver, BC)
Chol Deng Kuir (Winnipeg, MB)
Christine Amoko (Winnipeg, MB)
Dulu Modi (Edmonton, AB)
Jennifer Wani (Regina, SK)
Judy Wani (Regina, SK)
Khemis Marsuk (Edmonton, AB)
Kija Lado (Edmonton, AB)
McNiel-Inyani Keri (Edmonton, AB)
Olga Loggale (Edmonton, AB)
Yawa Idi (Edmonton, AB)
Yondu Mori (Montreal, QC)
What is the inspiration behind SSYC?
South Sudanese Youth of Canada (SSYC) aims to contribute to the welfare of South Sudanese across Canada. To achieve this, SSYC aims to establish a diverse and strong base of youth leaders, across the country, to support and contribute to not only the South Sudanese community, but Canadian society at large. Since the official establishment of SSYC in 2018, community development initiatives have flourished across Canada in a multitude of South Sudanese communities. Led by South Sudanese youth (SSY) of various socioeconomic backgrounds, SSYC strives to provide communities with the infrastructure and support necessary to achieve its purpose. In practice, this has meant expanding the network into regional partner organizations which collaborate under the umbrella that is SSYC. Currently, these organizations include: South Sudanese Youth of Edmonton (SSYEG), South Sudanese Youth of Regina (SSYC-YQR), South Sudanese Youth of Calgary (SSYYC), Council of South Sudanese Community of Manitoba Youth (COSSCOM), and newly - the South Sudanese Students Association of the University of Saskatchewan.
How can someone become a part of your SSYC organization?
There are several ways to get involved! Interested in supporting through attendance?Email or DM us about upcoming community developments in your city or a city near you. We'd love to meet you! Want to take on a leadership role? We will be transitioning in new representatives for the 2019-20 year in Fall 2019! These reps serve the community at the municipal and national levels, alongside a team of other motivated youth leaders from across Canada. Keep an eye out for details on the online application process. Interested in partnering or sponsoring the work of SSYC? Whether at the municipal or national level, we'd love to be in contact. Many of our community development initiatives span activities in the realms of workshops, volunteer initiatives, and social activity within the South Sudanese community and Canadian society at large.
Currently the platform is mainly for South Sudanese youths within Canada at large. Are you looking to expend to South Sudanese youth that are non-Canadian residents in future why or why not?
This fall, SSYC will be entering our third year of operation with four official member cities (Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, and Winnipeg) and the newest addition - Saskatoon. Our national conferences have included attendees from Vancouver, Thunder Bay, and Montreal, and we are currently focused on developing this foundation to continue impacting our Canadian community in a meaningful way. As we expand our operational capacity, we welcome the idea of partnering on projects with an international reach.
What other major projects that your team is currently working on with regards to the SSYC? ( Provide full details)
Our team is currently working on a major report to finalize our second official year of existence. This report mainly chronicles our 2nd National Youth Conference which was held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from July 19 - 21, 2019. SSYC (South Sudanese Youth of Canada) and its inaugural conference was created to unite SSY across the country in an effort to identify challenges facing the South Sudanese-Canadian community, brainstorm potential solutions, and develop connections to help combat the identified challenges. As was successfully accomplished in 2018, the conference included: workshops, community speakers, cultural/contemporary artistic performances, and a basketball tournament. This years theme for the 2019 SSYC Conference was ‘RISE’. The theme itself was a call to action for youth to rise to the occasion even when it may appear that the odds are set against them.
The SSYC Conference is aimed at supporting youth in their desire to rise by supporting and celebrating those already involved within the community, connecting individuals to activities they are passionate about, and providing mentorship opportunities for youth/young adults. Based on the feedback from the previous conference, youth expressed great desire to emphasize the diverse and unique experiences they have had which provide invaluable lessons to the larger community. Curating a selection of speakers whose accolades, professional work, and community advocacy are a reflection of this resulted in a lineup of youth who exemplify what it means to rise. Also based on last years strong beginning, the results of the conference are best displayed through the community development initiatives that have taken place year-round. Through the SSYC 2019 Conference, a sense of ownership in the success of the community was fostered by helping youth realize they are capable of change with personal and community benefits.
As a leader ( Founder of SSYC) what are three major characteristics that a great leader required to be consider excellent ?
The SSYC Organizing Committee considers communication, organization, and self care to be major characteristics of great leadership. As youth leaders facilitating a national organization, all of our leadership are also involved in various activities in their personal lives. Through experience, we have learned that communication and organization are essential to our sustainability. Since most of our national communication takes place online, this is required at greater levels to ensure group cohesiveness. Self care is a characteristic of great leadership that we also hold in high regard. The level of commitment required to execute our projects is often weighed against the heavy demands of school (the majority of our team are in post-secondary studies), work, and additional responsibilities. Taking time to communicate personal needs and work to support one another has been critical to our leadership. We hope that by doing this, we lead by example for this practice to become commonplace in our communities.
What is (are) your most memorable moment (s) as a working at SSY of Canada thus far and why?
"My most memorable moments have been forming and deepening new relationships (meeting people for the first time or in a new light) and seeing others do the same! A few people very close to me were able to explore what being part of the South Sudanese community meant to them for the first time as a result of SSYC activities. Overall, providing a platform for youth at the intersection of various identities and then hearing them express that the conference felt like a homecoming, has meant the world to me." - Vibya Natana (SSYC 2018-19 Organizing Committee Member: Representative of the South Sudanese Youth of Regina)
What advice would you give to someone who wants start or become leader of an nonprofit Organization similar to SSY of Canada?
Your time is now. As one of our SSYC 2019 Conference speakers, Jennifer Wani, so eloquently explained: success is within reach for the willing. Athiang Makuoi, (one of SSYC's founding members) often describes the inception of the organization as a collection of likeminded individuals deciding to do something regardless of the obstacles that may stand before them. Heed these words and go for it!
What can we expect from you in the next 2 years or so?
In the next 2 years, SSYC plans to continue to expand our reach throughout Canada and foster strong relationships with existing community platforms across the nation through community development initiatives.
Who are other talented singers, influencers, fashion stylist, or artist within the South Sudanese community you would hope to collaborate with?
There are so many individuals and groups within the South Sudanese community doing amazing things. Our “#SouthSudaneseExcellence” series on SSYC social media platforms has highlighted some of these role models who have been making great strides!
Although there are many we hope to collaborate with, a few include:
James Thuch Madier (Founder and Executive Director of Rainmaker Enterprise)
Dobijoki Emmanuela (Educator, Author, & Public Speaker)
Richard Sindani (CFL Calgary Stampeders Wide Receiver)
Nyabuoy Gatbel (Social Entrepreneur, Model, & Author)
Lual Mayen (Game Developer & CEO of Junub Games)
Amanie Illfated (Recording Artist)
Dr. Noella Mogga (Anesthesiologist and Founder of 'Taste of South Sudan')
Wow, what an amazing list. In fact, few of the names you have listed I can definitely let them know you are interested in collaborating with them. Thank you all for your amazing work on the SSYC. I look forward in interviewing you all again soon.
Have a fantastic fall season!
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