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Youth centres receive funding

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, August 20, 2009

DEH CHO - Seven youth centres in the Deh Cho are among the 29 recipients of funding from the territorial government.

Through the Youth Centres Initiative the government is investing $500,000 to assist with the operating costs of youth centres and other community-based facilities that offer positive programs for youth. Each of the 29 centres will receive $17,241.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

The Deh Cho Friendship Centre in Fort Simpson is among 29 youth centres in the territory that have received more than $17,000 each in funding. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

This is the third year the initiative has been offered.

"It's been very well received," said Ian Legaree, the director of sports, recreation and youth for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs.

The initiative was developed in response to requests from communities that were asking for support for their youth centres.

Almost every community in the NWT has a youth centre and some have two, said Legaree.

"Youth centres are a need that have grown up over the years," he said.

Part of the government's youth mandate is to work with communities to help offer youths positive places where they can gather and do things, said Legaree.

The initiative supports the centres, many of which operate on shoestring budgets, by giving them core funding, he said. As long as they offer positive programming for youths the centres are eligible to apply.

The funds available doubled this year to $500,000 from $250,000. The additional funds mean that six more centres will receive money and the amount per centre has increased, said Legaree.

In Fort Providence the initiative provides a crucial secondary source of funding for the Zhahti Koe Friendship Centre.

The money is used to support the programs that are offered at the Friendship Centre and at the youth centre, said Jay Horesay, the organization's executive director.

The centres offer programs targeted at young girls and boys, moms and tots and new mothers. On average 30 to 40 people per week utilize the programs at the Friendship Centre, said Horesay.

The numbers are higher at the youth centre, where the most successful program is the handgames session every Wednesday night, he said.

At the Deh Cho Friendship Centre in Fort Simpson the funding from the initiative helps to cover the cost of the after-school and evening drop-in programs for youth, said Aaron McNab, the executive director.

The centre receives its primary funding from the National Association of Friendship Centres but it isn't enough to last through the full year. Without the Youth Centres Initiative the centre wouldn't be able to offer the current level of programming, McNab said.

During the school year between seven to 15 youth come through the centre's door on a daily basis.

"They all come here to hang out," he said.

Other centres in the Deh Cho that are receiving funding include the Fort Liard Youth Centre, the Jean Marie River Youth Facility, the Sambaa K'e Dene Band Youth Centre and the Pehdzeh Ki First Nation Youth Centre.