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Youth centre welcomes new administrator
Programming for young people more than just keeping the lights on and the doors open

Meagan Leonard
Northern News Services
Thursday, July 2, 2015

He's only been in town a month, but John Moore didn't waste any time fully immersing himself in the community.

NNSL photo/graphic

John Moore, the new executive director of the Inuvik Youth Centre, is getting to know the community and tried his hand at street hockey during an Aboriginal Day barbecue held at the centre June 24. Pictured are Justin Stewart, left, Reg Clarke, Moore, Brendan Arey, Christopher Haogak, Jayden Clarke and Jacobi Day. - Meagan Leonard/NNSL photo

Named the new executive director of the Inuvik Youth Centre two weeks ago, Moore has barely had time to catch his breath since moving to the territory from Antigonish, N.S. Inuvik Drum caught up with Moore elbows deep in a pot of raw hamburger meat last week, briskly shaping patties for the centre's Aboriginal Day barbecue.

"I was coming up here initially just for a summer job," he said.

"But I saw this place was struggling and I thought maybe I had some skills that would be of value."

Moore recently finished his third year at Sir Francis Xavier University and is working toward a joint advanced degree in philosophy and Catholic studies. He said he worked out a way to take some courses online so he could stay in Inuvik for a little longer, adding the adjustment hasn't been as difficult as he expected.

"It's certainly culturally different, but what I've actually found to be the craziest part is the sun," he said.

"The 24 hours of daylight - that's the most difficult part."

Moore said although he doesn't necessarily have any experience working at a youth centre, community programming has been something he has been involved in for most of his life as chief squire in the junior division of the Knights of Columbus.

Moore said he was drawn to charity work and volunteering at a young age after health challenges prevented him from participating in many organized sports and forced him on to the sidelines. He said for a long time, he carried around a certain amount of resentment toward the children able to play, but has since turned it into a positive through coaching and volunteering.

"Growing up, I had some eyesight problems, so I still can't skate to this day and I used to despise hockey because everyone played and I couldn't," he explained.

Earlier in the week, when a few of the boys at the centre approached him about taking out the hockey equipment, he was a little apprehensive and said those childhood hang-ups started to resurface.

"But I went out and played with half a dozen of them for a few hours in the parking lot and for the first time in my life, I had a great time playing hockey," he said.

He added he enjoys spending time with the kids and taking a break from all the stress and responsibility of being an adult.

"It's nice to hit the rewind button a little bit and go back to yourself when you were a kid and you didn't have to worry about keeping the lights on and the doors open," he said with a laugh.

Going forward, he says he hopes to bring the centre to a postition where it receives more stable funding and work on making the building more energy efficient. Ultimately, though, it's all about the kids.

"I don't think people absorb what it actually means when you say children are the future," he said.

"They pattern themselves off what they're exposed to and if you're not exposing them to healthy, monitored, safe patterns, if you're not directing them to what they should see and experience, quite frequently they end up in much worse off positions in which they began."

As he loaded up a number of tiny hands with water balloons, Moore said he is eager to see what the summer will bring.

"I'm both optimistic and excited," he said.

"I'm certainly being challenged, but I like that challenge and it's something I came up here seeking."

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