‘Dialogue’ slated on youth issues

FORT FRANCES—Given the issue of a declining youth population facing many Northern Ontario communities, the Northern Development Council (NDC) is inviting local youth and other individuals to participate in a dialogue on “Creating Opportunities for Youth in Northern Ontario.”
The dialogue will take place this Monday (July 10) at the resource centre at Manitou Rapids First Nations from 1-3 p.m. for the general public and 5:30-7:30 p.m. for youths.
“They’re coming to Emo and they’re trying to gather information on what the youth want to see, and why they wouldn’t come back or why they do come back,” explained NDC member Kim Jo Bliss.
The NDC has worked with northern youth and developed “a series of proposed strategies to engage youth in their communities and improve education, training, and employment opportunities in Northern Ontario,” the discussion paper states.
Some of the objectives pertaining to the proposed strategies include:
•Northern Ontario youth are involved in leadership and development opportunities;
•Northern Ontario youth have a voice in community and government decisions that affect them;
•Northern youth can find affordable housing, transportation, and recreational opportunities in their communities;
•Young people view training and education in Northern Ontario as an attractive choice; and
•Northern Ontario youth are successfully starting their own businesses.
Now the NDC is asking for input on the proposed strategies.
“We need to get as many people out as we can so they can gather lots of information,” noted Bliss. “We’re aiming for 30 people and hoping we get more.
“They are asking for input, so let’s give them some.”
The invitation, a letter from the minister, the discussion document, and the questionnaire have been forwarded to many potential participants. But if people are unable to attend, they have all they need to complete the survey and to promote it.
“We are encouraging people to share this information widely,” Bliss said.
“Young people are the key to Northern Ontario’s future prosperity,” said Northern Development and Mines minister Rick Bartolucci.
“With the help of our NDCs, the McGuinty government is working with northerners to find ways to enhance opportunities for young people in the Northern Ontario.
“Together, we can create northern communities that are tremendous places for young people—where they can live, work, play, and build prosperous futures,” Bartolucci added.
Food and refreshments will be served during the dialogue.
“Everyone is welcome and we encourage everyone to come if they are able to,” Bliss stressed.
The NDC then will review the information it receives from the event and produce a final report and recommendations to be submitted to Bartolucci by the fall.
To find out how you can provide input on proposed strategies to attract and retain youth in Northern Ontario, follow the “Youth” link at the NDC’s website at www.ndc.gov.on.ca or call 1-705-564-7016.
(Fort Frances Times)