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Shining a light for KIDS

Carolyn Sloan
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 10, 2008

UQSUQTUUQ/GJOA HAVEN - With the aim of inspiring, educating and supporting youth, a group of residents from Cambridge Bay have created a new organization called the Kids Initiative and Development Society (KIDS).

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Gjoa Haven's Ashley Kaloon works on her own creation during a wall hanging workshop. A new organization called KIDS is encouraging young people in the community to use their creativity to start local businesses based on their talents. - photo courtesy of Frances Ross

KIDS president Troy Beaulieau came up with the idea four years ago after identifying needs in the community both material, such as kids going to school without hats and mitts or without lunches, and educational, such as the absence of locally-provided bursaries for students.

After sharing his concerns with the community, he discovered the support was there to develop a youth-oriented organization.

"Our mandate is to promote education and embrace life. Anything we can do to encourage kids to stay in school, get their education, to move on into good things, full-time employment, whatever they decide to so," Beaulieau said. "It's such a big idea. There's so much we want to do and accomplish that now we have the means of being incorporated, we have the tool to do that, so we're going to do everything we can to just make life a little bit better in Gjoa Haven."

Now that KIDS is off the ground, youth programming is being developed and fundraising initiatives are underway. Towards the end of November, instructors from the Canadian Centre for Skills Development are coming to the community to provide training in marketing and tourism strategies for kids at the three schools, as well as local residents of all ages.

"We'll be teaching the kids how to maybe create their own business, do their own little crafts and stuff, anything they can think of to market for tourism," said Beaulieau. "Maybe they don't want to go down south and be a lawyer or something. Maybe they want to stay home and be like their relatives who are carving, who are making their living off the land, and that's what we want to promote - the heritage and cultural side of it. It all works together perfectly."

Gjoa Haven's economic development officer Trina Sallerina said the youth initiative is an ideal fit with plans to build on the hamlet's tourism industry and bring together all ages and all organizations within the community to work towards a common goal.

"The youth are the grassroots of our community, so it only made sense that kids should be involved with the economics of our community," she said.

The instructors from the CCSD will be meeting with students during the day and the community as a whole in the evening, including elders, professionals and youth of all ages. During the evening session, they will help facilitate a discussion on how everyone in the community can play a role in developing tourism.

Sallerina said the workshops will also be extended to a couple students from the communities of Kugluktuk, Kugaaruk, Taloyoak and Cambridge Bay.

Ultimately, KIDS hopes to expand the organization and its initiatives to include other communities in Nunavut.