Actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have made a very generous donation to support a Canadian mentorship program for Indigenous post-secondary students.
Colby Delorme, chair of the Calgary-based Influence Mentoring Society, announced that Reynolds and Lively donated $250,000, which will bring the program “one step closer to reality.”
Delorme said that mentorship has played an important role in the Indigenous community, adding that culture, traditions, spirituality, teachings and stories have all been shared and best understood through the Elder and protégé relationship.
Delorme adds that Influence Mentoring’s mission is guided by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action, which speaks to the need to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.
“This project exemplifies the spirit of reconciliation whereby Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who believe that providing mentoring opportunities for post-secondary, Indigenous youth, adapt a two-way mentoring model, and in doing so work together to build stronger relationships while improving cross-cultural understanding and appreciation,” Delorme said.
“Further, Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People affirms this importance, stating that ‘Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.'"
“Eliminating these gaps and ultimately increasing Indigenous representation in the private sector, including in management and executive positions, should be a shared journey,” said Delorme. “We are incredibly grateful to Ryan and Blake for their generous donation of $250,000. This speaks not only to having the resources available to support Indigenous youth, but also is a signal of true reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.”
Reynolds and Lively said that they are happy to support the program, which seeks to teach Indigenous issues, culture and history to Indigenous youth in Canada and help them enter the job market after they graduate.
“We are so happy to support the Influence Mentoring program that will help Indigenous youth in Canada, who are trying to successfully complete their post-secondary pursuits and enter the job market for the first time,” the couple said.
“All too often, diverse groups are left behind in the things we take for granted. This program aims to rectify that imbalance," the Deadpool actor added.
Last June, the couple donated $200,000 to an institute at St. Francis Xavier in Nova Scotia to help promote Indigenous women’s leadership. Their donation was a kick-start for the Coady Institue’s goal of raising $1 million for its International Centre for Women’s Leadership and the centre’s Indigenous programming.
In a statement, Reynolds said he and Lively were proud to be associated with the Coady Institute. “The world’s changing quickly, and one thing we’re sure of is that communities are best led from within,” Reynolds said. “Indigenous women are the leaders who will develop and implement approaches to increase social capital of their own communities, organizations and nations.”
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Reynolds and Lively have been extremely generous during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last March, they donated $1 million to two food drive organizations, Food Banks Canada and Feeding America. “I think we can all agree, COVID-19 is an a–hole,” Reynolds wrote on Twitter. “If you can help, visit, FeedingAmerica.org and/or FoodBanksCanada.ca.”
“COVID-19 has brutally impacted older adults and low-income families,” the Deadpool actor wrote, adding: “If you can give, these orgs need our help. Take care of your bodies and hearts. Leave room for joy. Call someone who’s isolated and might need connection."
“Hugh Jackman’s # is 1-555-[crying emoji]-HUGH,” Reynolds joked.
In November, Reynolds and Lively donated $250,000 to Covenant House Vancouver and $250,000 to Covenant House Toronto to support unhoused, at-risk and trafficked youth in Canada.
The 44-year-old actor decided to use his donation as a special matching gift to encourage other people to donate to Covenant House, an organization that continues to provide essential 24/7 services to youth experiencing homelessness. "Covenant House provides love, hope and stability for at-risk youth who've fled physical, emotional and sexual abuse," said Reynolds. "They do the work of heroes. For us, helping Covenant House this way isn't a donation, but an investment in compassion and empathy."
Reynolds said the world needs a lot more empathy and compassion and the young people who walk through the doors at Covenant House "have a story marked by extraordinary trauma."
"They are so much more than that trauma. They have so much to offer the world," added Reynolds. "Matching this gift is saying you believe in them. You believe in the power of compassion to transform the trajectory of a human being."
Reynolds and Lively are truly the couple that keeps on giving.
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