The islands’ two teen centres will remain open for another six months, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Gwaii Trust.
The money will pay for the staff and operational costs of the teen centres in Masset and Queen Charlotte.
However, the funding is considerably less than the $216,000 the Haida Gwaii Youth Society requested to create an all islands youth strategy, and that project is now on hold, says society member David Loewen.
The society will have to go back to the drawing board, Mr. Loewen said: “We need to be more clear with the Gwaii Trust about stating clearly what we are doing, but also recognize that we have to evaluate our own work so far to see if we’re on the right track.”
One of the problems with creating a youth strategy is that teens and youth have different needs, says Mr. Loewen. The school age teens need a place like the teen centres to hang out and have fun. Youth in their early 20s need help with post-secondary education and employment.
The youth society is reconsidering its direction, and deciding whether to put in another application for the Gwaii Trust’s May deadline.
The Gwaii Trust has requested a meeting with the society to discuss what is required to secure long term funding. “They’re showing a commitment that this is important to them. They hope to give more feedback to HGYS about what they started last year,” Mr. Loewen said.
The youth society is also thinking about applying to Human Resources Development Canada for employment program funding, but “the challenge with HRDC funding is that there is a strong criteria, they want many different things. They are very rigorous in their evaluation and measurement,” Mr. Loewen said. “The other challenge is that it’s great to have employment programs, but if you don’t have employers” then there’s nowhere for youth to be employed.
In November 2002, the provincial government cut funding to the islands two teen centres. The Haida Gwaii Youth Society formed to keep them open. It received money from the Gwaii Trust to do so. However, the Gwaii Trust board asked the society to also create an all islands youth strategy, Mr. Loewen said.
The society began with projects that were already working, like the teen centres and Nights Alive in Masset. It also started a youth council that held a retreat at Mount Moresby Adventure Camp and then met two more times.
Youth lack trust, and are frustrated, by the perception that nothing will ever happen for them, Mr. Loewen said. “They keep getting let down.”
For now the society is hanging on, but its office is closed because there is no money to pay for staff or rent, he said.
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