'We need your support;' The case for a youth centre

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Re Neighbours question Prosvita hall plan — letters, Dec. 9:
The City of Thunder Bay has the third largest aboriginal population of any city in Ontario and the aboriginal population is growing. There are an estimated 20,000 Aboriginal people who are living in Thunder Bay, and the large population of Aboriginal children and youth will have a significant impact on the city’s future.
The Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre is a non-profit, registered charitable organization delivering culturally-appropriate programs and services to aboriginal and non-aboriginal residents of all ages. The centre’s 20 programs serve an estimated 4,000 people each year, and focus on health and wellness, justice, family support, youth initiatives, education, employment, skills development and training.
Friendship Centre staff are actively involved in ongoing community partnerships with schools, libraries, service provider working groups, community coalitions, employers, and aboriginal and non-aboriginal community agencies.
More and more children, youth and families are taking part in the centre’s programs each year, and efforts to establish a dedicated youth centre began in 2012 when the centre partnered with the City of Thunder Bay.
The need for a community cultural centre in Thunder Bay has been well-documented and researched. We strongly support a youth centre that is based on best practices and will provide youth from across the city with a safe, inclusive space where they can socialize, engage in community activities, and find support from peers, mentors, and service providers who can meet a range of diverse needs.
We intend the new youth centre to be safe and welcoming. It will offer recreational activities, organized sports, and educational classes covering such topics as life skills, health promotion, and leadership.
Aboriginal youth will have an integral role in the development of cultural programs that will strengthen their Anishnawbe identity, their spiritual teachings, and their good life. They will be supported in their social, cultural and economic well-being, and opportunities for our city’s youth will be created, allowing them to contribute in a meaningful way to their community.
With more than 50 years of delivering youth programs in Thunder Bay, Indian Friendship Centre staff has the experience and relationships needed to advance youth issues. We are pleased to be working with the City of Thunder Bay on this important initiative, and are excited to see this project move forward.
On behalf of the board of directors, staff, and members of the Indian Friendship Centre, I extend our sincere appreciation for this opportunity to share our aspirations and dreams for our youth. We need your support to create a healthy, vibrant, and strong future for our youth.
Bernice Dubec
Executive director
Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre