Youth summit to be bigger than ever

At least 50 youth, with more still to register, will be coming here for four days of education, recreation, and culture Aug. 29-Sept. 1. when the third-annual United Native Friendship Centre youth summit is held.
“We have people coming from Toronto, Kapuskasing, Thunder Bay,” said youth worker Raylene Johnson. “But we really hope to attract more from Fort Frances because this summit is really for them.”
Both Johnson and Erin McMahon have been busy in recent weeks to plan the summit, which Johnson stressed combines health education, recreation, socializing, and traditional First Nation cultural teachings.
“”This is my first youth summit at the youth centre. It seems like a great thing. I’m excited,” said Johnson.
“It’s a lot of stress,” smiled McMahon. “But it’s worth it.”
“Since it’s become an annual event, we want to keep giving teens something to look forward to every year,” noted Johnson.
Not only will youth be coming here to attend the summit but presenters, too. For example, Ryan McMahon, a former youth worker here, will be coming back from Toronto with a theatre troupe to do a play on youth violence.
Unless stated otherwise, all of the activities will take place the UNFC’s youth centre (616 Mowat Ave.).
The first part of the summit (Aug. 29) will begin with registration at 4 p.m., followed by supper from 5-6 p.m. Attendees then are welcome to mix-and-mingle from 6-8 p.m. before the evening really heats up with some karaoke and party games from 8-10 p.m.
Friday features a busy schedule as things get into full swing. Following breakfast at 8 a.m. is an opening drum ceremony at 8:30.
Then a series of workshops—focused on topics such as leadership, employment skills, racism, and drugs and alcohol—will run throughout the day, with supper at 5:30 p.m.
Yet-to-be-confirmed entertainment, and possibly a trip to a sweat lodge, will conclude the evening.
Saturday will start off with a breakfast, followed by a full day of workshops on activities such as sexual activity and youth, youth violence, peer pressure, and youth crime.
Around 3 p.m., attendees will get a chance to cut loose and go shopping or canoeing for three hours until a traditional First Nations feast at 6 p.m.
A dance is slated for 8 p.m. at the local Legion. While summit attendees will get in for free, all youth are welcome to come (admission is $8).
The final day (Sunday) will wrap up with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m., closing remarks at 9, and closing ceremonies at 10.
The deadline to register is this Saturday (Aug. 24) and cost is $30 per group (it doesn’t matter how many youth are in a group). To confirm your attendance, call McMahon or Johnson at 274-0561.
The summit also has received support from the community, including the Northwestern Health Unit, the district Substance Abuse Program, Betty’s, the UNFC, and D.A.R.E.