NAN looks to expand girl power program

Create: 12/01/2015 - 19:40

Nishnawbe Aski Nation is looking to broaden its Girl Power Wolf Spirit Warrior program with more social networking tools.
“We’re trying to take it to the next level,” said Corinne Fox, IGN (Intergovernmental Network on Northern Aboriginal Youth) director at NAN. “Some of the things they (youth) have identified ... is to be more part of a social networking tool within our program.”
Fox said youth are comfortable communicating with program staff through social networks, so she said NAN is developing a proposal to add that element to the program.
Although NAN recently received continued funding for the Girl Power Wolf Spirit Warrior program, which operated as a pilot project over the past two years, Fox said NAN continues to look for additional funding to broaden the program.
“I know they (youth) really like it,” Fox said about the Girl Power Wolf Spirit Warrior program. “When I go in (to the communities) and see the kids they ask for more.”
Programming includes workshops on traditional practices like hunting and fishing, developing recreation activities, seminars on nutrition, community kitchens and traditional arts and crafts. Twenty NAN community workers are trained quarterly to deliver the programming.
Fox said the communities have been happy with the part-time initiatives offered in the Girl Power Wolf Spirit Warrior program, but they would like to see more activities in the future.
“Overall they are happy about it, but I think they would like to see more,” Fox said. “I think it’s a right where every kid deserves to have an opportunity every day in their community.”
Fox wants to provide the youth with full-time opportunities in all NAN communities in the future.
“We try to be flexible or try to match with other funding opportunities,” Fox said. “We’re always trying to get more for the communities.”
NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy applauded the Aug. 3 funding announcement by the Ontario Ministry of Health for the program. Beardy said the program helps to develop life skills for youth.
“Many challenges face NAN young people such as the suicide rate which is seven times the national average and the high number of children in foster care – both of which are directly related to the 60’s scoop and the residential school era,” Beardy said. “This program helps to increase self-esteem, foster healthy relationships, enhance leadership and promote overall healthier lifestyle choices.”
The Girl Power Wolf Spirit Warrior program will be delivered to youth in Deer Lake, Kashechewan, Mishkeegogamang, Moose Cree, Muskrat Dam, Neskantaga, North Caribou Lake, Sandy Lake, Wahgoshig and Wapekeka, which were all involved in the initial two-year pilot program.
“Right now we only have it in 10 communities, so our next goal and our next phase would be to roll it out in all the communities,” Fox said.
Fox said the Girl Power program builds healthy relationships with youth using some key initiatives identified in the communities, such as suicide, healthy lifestyles, cultural awareness, nutrition and keeping sexually safe.
“You have to build in fun around that, so we also focus a lot on recreation with our program,” Fox said. “We tie in a lesson while going out on the land doing a fishing activity or trapping. Then they would also incorporate some seminars on more serious topics.”
Fox is currently looking to add community kitchen activities to the program to involve youth in cooking and alternative ways of making healthier foods at little cost.