Here’s just a snapshot of the journey that got us to where we are today.

Indigenous Youth Roots has had the privilege of working with Indigenous youth from coast to coast to coast for over a decade.

Our work has grown and evolved over the years, but our focus has always been on supporting Indigenous youth and their visions of change for the future.


In 2008,

Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE), now Indigenous Youth Roots, was founded.


In 2009,

CRE held its inaugural exchange across the Canadian Shield involving a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. Shortly after, “Shielded Minds”, a film documentary about the group’s journey provided viewers with insights into their journey and what they learned during the exchange.


In 2012,

CRE organized the youth component of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Toronto called, “The Meeting Place.” Youth From Ontario and Quebec participated in two days of training and reconciliation focused sessions with CRE’s Chair and several Elders.


In 2012,

CRE piloted its Youth Reconciliation Initiative with trained youth facilitators forming five teams across what is currently known as Canada. Youth leaders were trained with a focus on reconciliation and how Indigenous communities can make connections with other communities.


In 2013,

CRE hosted its first National Youth Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The conference was fully facilitated by and for youth and allowed participants to gather, build connections, and discuss reconciliation.


In 2014-2015,

CRE continued to offer Exchange Programs between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth with 138 youth participants taking place in exchange programs across the country lasting approximately 1-2 weeks.


In 2015-2016,

CRE launched #94 Days for Reconciliation, a youth-led social media campaign to raise awareness about the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Call to Action. 94 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from across the country shared a call to action, and each day CRE released one video on our YouTube channel.


In 2017-2018,

we brought together over 200 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from across the country for our Gathering, which was held at Laurentian University on Robinson Huron Treaty Territory. The event included panels, workshops, keynote speeches, and community visits.


In the 2019,

Federal Budget, the Government of Canada named CRE as a leading Indigenous Youth organization to take up TRC Call to Action 66 and committed federal funding for a pilot project of $15.2 million over three years (2019/2020 – 2022/2023).


In 2020,

CRE launched the CREation Community Grants Program. CREation is a multi-level funding program that supports strengths-based, community-focused and youth-led projects taking place in communities across Canada.

We recommitted ourselves to implementing community accountability practices that are community and stakeholder-informed to ensure our work is done in a good way. CRE’s policies were reformed to ensure they were aligned with teachings received from staff trainings in the areas of Anti-Black Racism & Anti-Oppression, Harm- Reduction & Trauma-Informed Care Practices, Lateral Kindness, and Conflict Management.

In 2020-2021,

CRE’s Centre for Indigenous Policy and Research launched the first cohort of their Indigenous Youth Policy School, a tuition-free program where Indigenous youth are given the tools to ensure their priorities are advanced and perspectives are reflected in policies that matter most to them.


In 2021-2022,

we developed and launched our Strategic Plan for 2022-2025. This Strategic Plan This plan was informed by the desires and needs of Indigenous youth and their communities, and is rooted in a vision of the future where Indigenous youth are empowered and connected as dynamic leaders in vibrant and thriving communities.

CRE developed a Community Advisory Circle, to advise on CRE’s programs, policies, and governance, and to make recommendations on matters that impact the experiences of communities and youth.


In 2021,

our Culture & Wellness team piloted a series of virtual workshops called Virtual Two Spirit Regalia Making. The space was designed for youth to explore Two Spirit cultures and histories from futurist, peer-led perspectives, where they could learn beginner skills and make their own regalia.


In 2023,

In April 2023, CRE hosted over 150 attendees including 95 Indigenous youth to convene at the Indigenous Youth Gathering in Banff, AB. The 2023 theme was, “All Together: Sustaining Our Stories, Growing Our Futures”. 

In September 2023, we introduced our new name and brand, Indigenous Youth Roots. It had become clear to us that we’d outgrown our name; we no longer facilitate “exchanges”, “Canadian” is not an identity that all Indigenous youth identify with, and we’ve shifted to focusing on programming, grants, and opportunities by and for Indigenous youth. Our new name is rooted in our new vision and purpose, and is a reflection of how we’ve grown and changed as an organization.


In the 2024,

Federal Budget, the Government of Canada committed to providing an additional $12.5 million over two years, starting in 2024-25 to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs to support IYR in partnering with Indigenous youth-led organizations and individuals.

This funding will help ensure the continued delivery of programming, grants and opportunities to empower Indigenous youth as part of our ongoing work to implement Call to Action 66 and support youth-led pathways toward reconciliation.