Mission and Vision

Our Mission: Urban Native Youth Association is the centre of Indigenous youth excellence, supporting youth on their journeys by amplifying and celebrating their voices. Our Vision: Empowered Indigenous youth leading and inspiring all Nations.

Philosophy of Care

Philosophy of Care

We recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work best for our youth. The philosophies of two-eyed seeing, culture as therapy, trauma-informed care, harm reduction, and person-centred care provide a framework that shapes all decisions in how we interact with and respond to youth across programs.



Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) was formed in 1988 to address concerns facing Indigenous youth, at a time when growing numbers of young people began leaving reserves for the city. Thirty years later, young people continue to arrive in Vancouver with few job skills, minimal training or education, and little or no knowledge of where to go for help. UNYA is meeting these needs by providing a wide range of services, resources, and opportunities that support Vancouver’s Indigenous youth to excel. Today, UNYA delivers 20+ programs, with 175+ volunteers, 100 staff, and more than 300 community partners.



The UNYA Board exemplifies the leadership of our youth.

  • Denise Williams

    Board President

    Denise Williams is a member of Cowichan Tribes and is of both First Nations and Scottish ancestry. For over a decade, she has focused on capacity-building efforts amongst First Nations through education and technology.

  • Rick Lavallee

    Vice President

    Rick Lavallee is Métis from Manitoba. He strongly believes in Indigenous youth empowerment, and organizes and participates in activities with youth, and serves as Aboriginal Liaison with the Vancouver Police Department.

  • Leila Williams

    Youth Board Member, Board Secretary

    Leila Williams is of Wet'suwet'en and Carrier descent from Moricetown, BC. She is fueled by a desire to give back to the communities she grew up in, and is pursuing a career in youth work.

  • Claire Robertson

    Board member

    Claire Robertson is of Métis ancestry. She first became involved with UNYA through her work on the First Nations in BC Knowledge Network project, and also serves as a youth board representative for the Vancouver Aboriginal Policing Centre Society.

  • André Bessette

    Board Member

    André Bessette is of Métis, Croatian, and French dsecent. His work as the Youth Native Courtworker at Robson Courthouse, and at the Native Education College give him a unique understanding of what Indigenous youth need to thrive today.

  • Matthew Norris

    Board member

    Matthew Norris is a member of the Lac La Rouge First Nation in Saskatchewan. He is employed as a Policy Analyst at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and a Masters student in UBC's Political Science program.

  • Daniel Cook

    Board Treasurer

    Daniel Cook is from the Huu-ay-aht First Nation of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples on his father's side, and the Ganada Clan of the Nisga'a on his mother's side. His work in community organzations includes UNYA's Native Youth Drop-In Centre, and the Circle of Eagles Lodge Society.



  • UNYA Annual Report 2016-17

    Urban Native Youth Association's Annual Report 2016-2017

    Download report (PDF) →
  • UNYA Annual Report 2015-16

    Urban Native Youth Association's Annual Report 2015-2016

    Download report (PDF) →
  • 2017 Child Poverty Report Card

    First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition's annual report with the latest statistics on child and family poverty in BC.

    Download report (PDF) →

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