THUNDER BAY – Editorial – On the day that the minority Conservative Government fell, Greg Rickford, the MP for Kenora stood in the House of Commons and delivered a Member’s Statement. Rickford rose above much of the political partisanship that dominated the last Parliament, and on a day when he could have sought to gain political points, he chose to recognise the work of young people.
Rickford said, “I would like to recognize youth from across Canada, as well as seven members from the great Kenora riding, visiting Ottawa for the Town Youth Participation Strategies Conference. Since 1993, youth from across Canada have been researching and developing programs to reduce behaviours that put youth at risk.
Their conferences and workshops held nation-wide are helping bring youth community groups together to discuss issues like drug use, suicide prevention and bullying.
“TYPS focuses on issues that are critical to all Canadian communities. Initiatives such as their teen anti-smoking videos, after-school recreational programs and youth centre science clubs have received federal and provincial support.
“This year’s conference is being held in Ottawa with workshops dedicated to stress management, teen homelessness and substance abuse.
“I ask all members of this House to join me in recognizing the courageous work being done by these future community leaders. These kids are just another example of what makes the Kenora riding so great.”
Young people as Rickford stated, are the future. Here in Thunder Bay young people from the Regional Multicultural Youth Centre have been demonstrating leadership in our community. These young people are also a part of the TYPS – Youth Centres Canada program.
These young people have been in our community making a difference in the Limbrick and Windsor neighbourhoods. They are on the ground, helping and listening to the concerns of the people who live in our city. On Friday night it was these young people who stepped up and made a difference for the people of Sandy Lake First Nation. One of the Sandy Lake residents commented on the barbecue the young people organized, “first meal my kids enjoyed…thank you”.
After a busy Friday night, some of these youths, seeking to raise the funds to keep marching forward took on the task of helping people at “Take a Hike”. Owner Diane Petyrna shares, “Our customers appreciated your help carrying items to their vehicles as did we. We also look forward to sponsoring a few MYC youth barbeques this summer in disadvantaged neighbourhoods”.
The RYMC is helping the people of Sandy Lake First Nation again this evening, then this week plan to be in County Park for a barbecue. There will be a report prepared on the findings from their recent barbecue in the Windsor neighbourhood, and they are already talking with youth from that area about things which are needed and how they can assist the youth there in projects.
Here in Thunder Bay there are some fantastic programs for boy and girls. The Boys and Girls Club is a resource that our city needs. The RMYC however reaches to the teens, and seeks to engage with the youth who may feel they have “outgrown” some of the facilities and programs in our city. We are training young leaders in our community, and it is an important step forward for Thunder Bay.
Perhaps to sound a little political, but in a community where there are concerns over crime, over youth issues, and over our future; maybe it is time that more politicians invested in young people. The return on that investment will benefit Canada for generations. I for one would rather see our community build living legacies for our future.
What better place to start than with our young people?