We are not here to solve problems for young people. We come together with young people to transform the systems holding them back.


YSI’s guiding vision is about coming together as a collaborative to create the social infrastructure needed to enable grassroots and youth organizing.

In other words, we continually ask ourselves: How can we create new shared environments in order to generate the missing supports that young people need to make good things happen?

What Is Youth Organizing?

When young people have voice and choice, good things happen

Youth organizers contribute to more resilient, healthy and just communities when they are able to have impact and power in their communities. 

Youth organizing is a set of strategies used to bring young people together for the purpose of social justice. Young people become integral leaders and decision-makers in their own lives and communities. The systems and institutions that serve them and their communities are held accountable.
— Violetta Ilkiw, YSI steward - "Emergence of the Youth-led Sector" (2010)

More still, their work is animated by inclusive processes and authentic relationships – with oneself, each other, the land, and the spiritual identities that give these life. 

You can read Violetta's full article here.

What Is Social Infrastructure?

There are missing supports that young people need to do good

If physical infrastructure is the foundations of roads, bridges, telecommunications and public buildings that allow our society to function and work together, then social infrastructure is the invisible supports that young people need to make good things happen in their communities.

It includes things like consulting supports, networking, tools and resources, fund development, shared administration support and training. These work together to build the capacity of individuals, groups, and communities of all ages to make change. 

You can read YSI's founding documents which coined this term here.

What Is A Collaborative?

New environments connect personal and system transformation

A collaborative is an informal network that welcomes us to connect together as people have always done: in community. In this way, we unite in more holistic and person-centred ways across the social and professional boundaries that, when left unspoken, often keep us isolated.

We invite our members to step outside of the day-to-day grind, to create a cohesive and youth-friendly vision for our communities that transcends old divisions, and to experiment with different strategies for collective impact.

Other traditions which breathe life into our work include:

  • Indigenous knowledge practices and ways of knowing: Under the stewardship of Elder Gerrard Sagassige of the Curve Lake First Nation, we strive to honour our relationship to the land, our histories, each other, and all living things. 
  • Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter: We use a participatory, democratic leadership practice called the Art of Hosting. Rooted in dialogue and co-creation, this approach recognizes the connection between personal and systemic transformation. It supports the conversations that matter through storytelling, creativity and spiritual connection. 
  • Social innovation and organizational learning: We work to change the systems which underlie the root causes of injustice. In these complex change processes, we engage fully with the things that are uncertain, conflicting and sometimes even unknowable.