Old Massett youth centre opens Friday

  • May. 14, 2012 11:00 a.m.

Old Massett will be celebrating the opening of its new youth centre Friday (May 18) with an afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony and barbeque, followed by an all-island youth dance in the evening. Tarah Samuels, acting youth coordinator, said Massett-area teens are excited about the longhouse-style centre, which took years of planning before it became a reality. There has been no functioning teen centre at the north end for the past few years, she said. Before that, there was a teen centre that operated in a variety of locations, but never really found a permanent home. “It’s been a long time, it was made possible by the Jasper pole coming home,” Ms Samuels said. The new building is a beautiful space with a cultural room, gift shop, and homework area, among other features, all heated with a cozy wood stove, Ms Samuels said. The Jasper pole – a pole that was carved in Massett in the 1870s or 80s, then sold and displayed in Jasper, Alberta, and returned to the islands two years ago – is prominently displayed inside. Because of its age, it is displayed horizontally rather than vertically. “It’s got a huge presence,” Ms Samuels said. The Old Massett youth council and others have already been brainstorming about how the centre will be used. One of the first rules they came up with was that it will be a “tech-free” zone – people will not be allowed to use cell phones, head phones or other technology that isolates people. People can listen to music – but on speakers, not headphones, so everyone can hear it. “It’s really neat to see them take ownership,” Ms Samuels said. “We want the space to be open to them as much as possible.” The full youth council will be on hand Friday at 3:30 pm for the ribbon cutting, along with hereditary chiefs and other special guests. That will be followed by a barbecue at 4 pm, then a teen dance open to youth from all islands communities. On Sunday afternoon, between 4 and 7 pm, there will be an open house at the youth centre so everyone can check it out. The centre is looking for gifts, especially kitchen-ware items. Ms Samuels said the youth want, as much as possible, to furnish the centre with items made from natural materials like wood rather than plastic.