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Youth centre seeks funding
Free programming for youth in Inuvik at risk

Elaine Anselmi
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, January 15, 2015

Due to a shortage of funding available, the Inuvik Youth Centre is operating with limited staff and could face program cuts in the near future.

NNSL photo/graphic

Support worker Shiense Cockney, left, and Renee Theoret, executive director of the Inuvik Youth Centre, sit with several youth who enjoy the free program the youth centre has on offer. Cockney and Theoret are working on fundraising initiatives so programs will not have to be cut. - Elaine Anselmi/NNSL photo

"We'll be able to run the same schedule until March 31," said Renee Theoret, executive director.

"After that we might have to review, depending on the funding we've received."

As the fiscal year ends, Theoret said she will be working on 50 to 60 grant applications, in addition to fundraising efforts.

"You want to be able to focus on programing and the needs of Inuvik, and one-on-one time with youth, instead of just applying and applying and organizing fundraisers and so many events," said Theoret.

While there are some sponsors that continue to support the centre, Theoret said core funding for staffing, operations and management continues to be a challenge.

"There is a youth initiative through (the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs) for youth centres. It's a grant we get every year. We got $20,000 last year. It's not that much but anything helps," said Theoret.

Other grants the centre has previously received could also be reinstated, but Theoret said some are prescribed for new centres only, so the Inuvik Youth Centre may no longer qualify, being in its third year.

"For me, it's like SideDoor in Yellowknife is an amazing youth centre, funded by the ministry, churches and diamond mines," said Theoret.

"It would be great if a big business like this would like to be recognized in supporting what is essential to have - a safe place for youth to go in every community."

Along with Theoret, staff at the centre consists of a support worker, Shiense Cockney, a Grade 12 student, and a Drop-In program superviser, Jozef Semmler, a recent high school graduate.

Semmler's position is supported by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, which Theoret said is the only way they are able to maintain the 30-hour per week position.

"Both are part time because that's all we can afford right now," said Theoret.

"We're missing a program co-ordinator and it would be nice to have another support worker during Drop-In."

As the centre's most popular program, Drop-In sees between 25 and 40 youth per night, offered from Thursday to Saturday.

"Drop-In provides a safe, dry, warm place to hang out and have healthy food. Youth can also access support, one-on-one (time) with a youth worker, like myself, and access to any professional resources or agencies. During Drop-In, they can access musical instruments, arts and crafts, movies, the Internet and games," said Theoret.

"It gives them a sense of belonging to have a place where they can hang out and socialize. It's the only place that youth can access free programming after school, aside from the library."

The overall cost to run the centre is between $188,0000 and $200,000 per year, said Theoret, and has gone as high as $220,000.

Theoret has made a presentation to the town of Inuvik's mayor and council in hopes of receiving financial support, and launched an online fundraising campaign on

"I think that most non-profit organizations are struggling, not just ours," said Theoret.

"We reopened three years ago, but I think this will be the most challenging year."

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