Building leadership skills and instilling a sense of community are two main focuses of the Youth Program at Henvey Inlet First Nation.
Programs are free for kids over the age of six at Henvey Inlet First Nation. With a couple of dozen kids and youth attending each week, Community Mentor Angele Dubois has a lot on the go.
“I run an afterschool program Monday through Thursday. Mondays and Tuesdays are for 6 to 8 year olds, and Wednesdays and Thursdays are for 9 to 11 year olds. In the evenings, there’s a program for kids 12 and up—it’s a youth leadership program.
Afterschool programming in the winter is focused on outdoor activities like skating and sledding. Older kids also have the opportunity to go on trips and give back to the community.
Putting the Fun in Fundraising
One recent trip was visiting Canada’s Wonderland for the Halloween Haunt event.
“The kids did some fundraising so they could go on this trip. Pattern contributed to it as well,” explains Angele.
Fundraising for these trips gets the kids out into the community, helping out at events and other activities.
“Our goal with these programs is to encourage kids to get involved and give back to their community and hopefully they’ll continue this when they get older,” she explains.
Getting Involved at an Early Age
“Henvey Inlet Wind held a community event last November and the kids took part in helping with that. They were serving food, they were making sure that Elders had food brought to them, they helped decorate the hall the night before, and they helped put away tables and chairs when everything was done,” Angele says.
The event was to celebrate the partnership between Henvey Inlet First Nation and Pattern Canada in establishing Henvey Inlet Wind.
“I thought the kids did an awesome job helping with the event. They were polite and kept busy, and completed anything anyone asked them to do,” she says.
Other ways the kids help out include selling and serving food at Bingo nights and taking part in events at Henvey Inlet Wind like the sculpture ceremony.
The Future of Youth
As the kids and youth continue to participate in programs each week, Angele is focused on ensuring that each activity makes an impact.
“These programs are important because one of these kids will be Chief one day. They are definitely the leaders of the future, so investing in them now is like investing in our community’s future. It benefits everyone,” she says.
Angele ensures that each activity and experience is fun but also teaches the kids and youth leadership skills. Their latest adventure was to Mukwa Adventures earlier this winter.
“It’s a sleepaway camp and an on-the-land cultural experience. They learned things like survival skills, how to filter water, what to do if you get lost on the land, and going on ATV tours,” Angele says.
While many of the activities have been focused on the outdoors, Angele has noticed that this current group of youth is also quite creative.
“Our programs have been focused a lot on sports and small crafts but recently, I’ve discovered that the kids are really good at the arts. They’ve made a music video and written a song so I think focusing on their creativity could lead to some cool opportunities,” she says.