Community groups seeking youth to participate in Vital Conversations

Virtual event taking place for Prince Albert, Shellbrook, Birch Hills youth

The poster for the Vital Conversations event, open for youth in Prince Albert, Shellbrook and Birch Hills (Submitted photo)

A partnership between RBC and the local community foundation is hoping to target priorities identified by youth.

Local community members are encouraging youth to participate in RBC’s Vital Conversations, a program which asks youth to identify needs and challenges within their communities.

Lemoya Lorensen and Joseph Kiunga are both coordinating and facilitating the events.

Kiunga, who is also a director with the Prince Albert & Area Community Foundation Inc., said the foundation grants funds to community projects.

“(Vital Conversations) is really an opportunity for us to understand what the priorities are for the community,” Kiunga explained.

During Vital Conversations sessions, youth are tasked with discussing what challenges they believe their communities are faced with.

Lorensen explained that the sessions are occurring all across the country but RBC is targeting smaller towns.

“It’s not just the cities or the larger areas that have a voice in shaping our future,” Lorensen said. “It is the small areas with youth leaders…who also want to make a difference in their future.”

Kiunga has been involved with the sessions since 2019. He explained how at a past session, youth from Birch Hills brought up a challenge faced by their community.

“It had to do with this idea of community healing so between just the tensions that exist between members of a community, and so they had created a project around that. We supported that,” he said.

Both Kiunga and Lorensen said these conversations help prepare youth for the future.

Vital Conversations is a part of RBC’s Future Launch Community Challenge. Over the years, RBC collected data that informed them that youth are not prepared for jobs in the future.

Lorensen explained that youth are preparing for jobs that exist now but may not exist in the future.

“For example, an influencer wasn’t even a concept 10 years ago or a web designer wasn’t a concept 30 years ago,” Lorensen said.

Instead of preparing youth for jobs that exist now or trying to predict what jobs might exist in the future, the community challenge attempts to identify what skills can be transferable for youth to learn.

These skills include critical thinking, active learning, learning strategies, monitoring and programming.

Past reports suggest that global competency, cultural awareness and language and adaptability will be in demand skills in the future.

Digital fluency will also be essential to all new jobs as more industries turn to technology to operate.

The data collected by RBC came from earlier future launch studies, and past Vital Conversations sessions.

Vital Conversations will ask youth a variety of open-ended questions to start a discussion and offer optimism and leadership skills to address the challenges of tomorrow, Lorensen explained.

Kiunga encourages youth to join Vital Conversations so they can have an opportunity to have their voice heard and be a leader in their community.

“To lead the change you want to see in the community, be part of that. That’s the key focus of the conversations, is really to get the youth to participate fully and not be just consumers but lead that change.”

He added that it’s also a chance for youth to grow their skill set.

Vital Conversations is also hosted in partnership with Kiunga’s business, Simba Strategic Solutions Inc., that provides walk-around facilitation and strategic problem-solving in the community as well as community economic development.

Kiunga said he also has a vested interest in being involved in these conversations, in that he is passionate about his community.

Youth aged 15-29 can register for the event on eventbrite or by emailing Lorenson and Kiunga at

Prince Albert event, Feb. 4 1-2 p.m –

Birch Hills event, Feb 11 4-5 p.m. –

Shellbrook event, Feb 18 4-5 p.m. –