About Us

How We Got Started

Nanaimo Youth Services Association has delivered services to young adults in Nanaimo since 1969.

Nanaimo Youth Services Association is a non-profit organization which has delivered services to young adults in Nanaimo since January 23, 1969. Over this period, the Association has offered a number of services to our youth population.

When incorporated in 1969, the Association’s purpose was to purchase a residence which could be used as a receiving home for children in need of protection. NYSA purchased and renovated a residence on Wesley Street, and, initially, acted as a landlord for program services contracted by Social Services to another party.

Between 1969 and 1983, the residence moved from Wesley Street to Aulds Road, and evolved from a receiving home for children into a therapeutic program for adolescents. In 1983, the Association assumed responsibility for service provision, and shortly after, introduced a professional child-care model for service delivery. This program continued until 1987, at which time the local Ministry of Social Services office made a decision to shift its residential programs to a parenting model.

In 1986, with funding from the-then Employment and Immigration Canada, the agency initiated a 10 month “Youth Worker” training program. This program was funded for five years, and became the foundation for Malaspina University-College’s (now Vancouver Island University) Child and Youth Care diploma program. During its existence with the agency, the program trained over 60 child and youth care workers, many of whom continue to work in the community. It also reinforced the Association’s commitment to a professional child and youth care practice.

In 1987, a federally-funded Work Orientation Workshop (WOW) project was developed. The aim of this program was to assist 15 to 18 year olds who were out of school, or at risk of leaving school, to acquire life skills and personal focus which would enable them to successfully pursue educational plans.

These two federal programs laid the ground work for the Association to become one of the key providers of employability services to young people in our community.

NYSA currently provides a range of employment programs to youth. One of the most popular training services is the Employment Keep It! program. The program is designed for youths aged 16 to 30 who are unemployed, not attending school and who are in need of assistance to overcome employment barriers. In the program, individuals will participate in four weeks of paid in-class training, followed by 60 hours of paid work experience. Employers who provide work to Keep It! youth also receive a wage subsidy.


In 1995, NYSA developed a community-based, multi-service One – Stop Youth Centre. The centre was initiated at the request of an ad-hoc group of youth-serving agencies and youth. The development of the centre required the coordination of a number of stakeholders in the community. The strong relationships forged through this process have continued into the present and the One – Stop centre evolved into an integral part of the service to youth in Nanaimo for many years.

The Association continued its work in housing with a coalition of community organizations to develop a subsidized youth housing project. In 1999, a twenty-two unit complex was opened at 1001 Waddington Road to house 15 to 19 year-old youth, primarily those in the care of the Ministry of Child and Family Development. This building also houses NYSA’s Supportive Living Program which responds to the need for supportive assistance for at-risk youth in the Nanaimo region.

Also in the 1990s, the Association offered training opportunities for adults, including comprehensive peer-helper and youth centre volunteer training programs. The Association’s programs are used by a range of local public and private post¬secondary training institutions for practicum placements for their students.

Strong linkages with the business community have been developed through job development and work placement programs, community development projects, memberships on the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Nanaimo City Centre Association. A network of businesses continue to turn to the Association when looking for youth to fill job vacancies, and NYSA is viewed as a resource in assisting community groups to address youth issues.

Rowe House, a large rooming house in south Nanaimo, built at the turn of the 20th century, had fallen into disrepair in the early 21st century. NYSA identified it as potential accommodation for youth in the 19 to 25 age category. The property was purchased, and rebuilt and opened in 2012. Rowe House has 14 single units with communal kitchen and laundry facilities.

BladeRunners is a life skills, job development and coaching, and wage subsidy program intended to provide employment disadvantaged individuals, particularly youth 17 to 25 years, with work experience and training. The program commenced in March 1996, and provided options in the construction trades through work experience on specific construction projects. This program was initiated by NYSA and became the successful model for the provincial government’s ACCESS BladeRunners program.

Currently, NYSA has approximately 25 full and part-time employees working in Employment and Training, Housing and Supportive Living programs.

Our acronym NYSA is pronounced “en-why-ess-eh” so as not to be confused with a business in Nanaimo called NISA.

Our Values

NYSA Vision: An environment that encourages and empowers youth to reach their fullest potential.

NYSA Mission: Develop and maintain a community that provides youth with meaningful connections and integrated opportunities for learning, development and independence.

Nanaimo Youth Services Association (NYSA) is a community-based, not-for-profit, charitable society. It has provided a range of residential and employment/training services to youth in the Nanaimo regional since our incorporation in 1969. Over the past fifty years, the Association has grown into being a one-stop, integrated organization supporting youth in their quest to participate fully in the economic life of our community.

Our Programs

An overriding purpose of NYSA services is to provide social support to youth for the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. Most programs or services offered are free and incorporate elements of basic life skills, practical employment readiness and physical wellness education to assist in equipping youth to participate and be fully included in the life of our community.

NYSA’s ‘Philosophy of Care’ adheres to the notions that:

  • All people need a community in which they can feel respected, valued and cared for;
  • If it’s not good enough for our own children, we won’t provide it to other people’s children;
  • We will not offer services to youth that promote or result in learned dependency;
  • The best social and long-term income security program for youth in a market-based society is a meaningful job.

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