A Fort Providence school will receive almost $500,000 to help the community’s youth stay out of trouble – and a Conservative MP says other communities across the territory can expect support, too.
Deh Gah School has been granted federal funding amounting to $460,000 over four years, which will be invested in programs to help youth who are coming out of the justice system, as well as funding assistance in class, skills training and a full-time wellness coordinator.
“I’m excited, you know. We’re going to work very hard to make this program work and have the students be successful,” said Chris Carson, who has taught at Deh Gah School for the past 13 years.
When Carson submitted the school’s successful application for federal funding, he did so with a specific student in mind.
“There was one student in particular that just returned from custody. I wanted to make sure that they had support,” he said.
Ryan Leef, the Conservative MP for the Yukon, announced funding for the program on behalf of justice minister Peter MacKay while visiting Yellowknife.
Leef told Moose FM that Fort Providence would provide a pilot program to inspire and inform other communities, and the federal government would be prepared to supply similar support elsewhere.
“The program is going to set a pretty good example. This is a complete package and I think this will really encourage people to look into the results, the model and the outcomes, so they can adjust their models or take what we’ve got here and continue to improve upon that,” said Leef.
“Canada has always been highly supportive of these sorts of programs. I would anticipate that as we see the success of this program – which I know is going to be highly successful – other communities will try to adopt that, and they’ll look to the federal government for support.
“I anticipate we’re going to be there to give it to them.”
Leef, a former RCMP officer who also worked at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, explained how he believed the program will support youth in Fort Providence.
“These programs are really innovative. They’re about connecting the youth with the leadership in the community, sharing experiences on the land and providing practical skills,” he said.
“Sometimes that hardline academic stream presents challenges that don’t fit the mould for learning opportunities for youth. We need to start with getting them connected on a more fundamental level of teamwork, cooperation and essential life skills. These programs provide that opportunity.
“You hope that these skills lend themselves to a better academic stream later on.
“We lose too many of our youth, far too often, in the North because they just don’t find purpose in the education we are offering them.”
Leef also spoke in Hay River on Sunday evening, where he addressed residents on the government’s approach to conservation.