UMAYC newcomer to focus on culture

The United Native Friendship Centre has a new program co-ordinator for its Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centre (UMAYC) who hopes to make an impact on youth here.
Aimee Beazley was born and raised in Fort Frances. After earning her diploma in Recreation Studies at Mount Royal College in Calgary, she returned here to work.
After working for a time at a local bank, Beazley decided to get back into her field. She and her husband, a local OPP officer, have a daughter and son, so she is no stranger to children.
Beazley is happy to be working with youth through the UMAYC.
“I’m hoping to achieve a lot. I have very high expectations,” she noted Friday, her fourth day on the job. “I like to see myself as a positive role model for youth [and] aboriginal women in particular.”
Being of aboriginal heritage, Beazley said she’s pleased to be able to work in a field that promotes her culture.
“I believe culture is a very important part of our program,” she noted. “I feel we’re losing our culture, so it’s good to have it in our programs. My aboriginal culture is important to me.”
Though native culture figures prominently in UMAYC programming, the programs are not limited to native youth—a myth Beazley would like to dispel.
“I think there’s a big misconception that the Friendship Centre is for aboriginals only. But it’s not,” she stressed. “It’s to build a bridge of understanding between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, to educate both native and non-native people.”
Current programs include “Chefs R Us,” a Tuesday evening class to “prepare youth for moving away to college or university,” Beazley explained.
Participants learn how to cook simple dishes and to follow a budget.
Monday night is a recreation night for youth at St. Francis School, where they play various sports and games.
The UMAYC also hosts a Yu-Gi-Oh video game tournament twice a month on Saturdays, and movie nights. The centre is open for drop-ins from Monday to Friday from 4-8 p.m., where youth can hang out and play games together in a safe environment.
“We have a drum group, as well,” Beazley noted.
The centre also is planning pancake breakfast, likely sometime in November, to raise money for its programs.