Future North launches as new initiative to engage with regional youth
Empowering and engaging with local youth is going to be the mission of a new initiative which has officially launched called 'Future North.'
The five-year initiative is funded by the federal government and the Tamarack Institute as part of the Community Building Youths Futures Initiative which is working with roughly 13 communities.
"So Future North is actually a network for youth that was co-developed with youth in the district of Sudbury and Manitoulin over the past year, so we have a leadership table who oversees the direction, priority and work of our initiative," said program manager Nicole Minialoff.
The website has now officially launched and with it comes a map that shows youth where they can find some of the existing resources available.
They are expecting the next few weeks to be rather busy as they look to engage with youth on a more personal level.
Team members have already been working to raise awareness through their social media channels that include both Facebook and Instagram.
"There's a lot of resources out there but youth don't know what's available, what they're eligible for and how to reach out and connect with those services," explained Minialoff.
Kerry Yang is a grade 12 student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School. She learned about the program through her school and now works with the initiative as a youth intern.
She and another intern at Lasalle Secondary are working on a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, persons of colour) initiative within Future North to tackle engagement and youth issues from that perspective.
Yang says it's very personal for her, given that she is a first-generation Canadian.
"We don't see ourselves in books, or in media or in just the classroom at all and that takes a really big toll on our identity and our confidence so Future North is really tackling that by giving these youth opportunities and making them feel valued in their community," said Yang.
"One of the main feedback is youth aren't heard, their voices aren't heard so often youth are just used as tokenism so big business use youth in their community just to have them there but don't listen to them - here at Future North we really want to put youth in positions of power," said another youth, Keanna Duguay, who works as the community engagement coordinator.
They'll be travelling the area in mid-October to meet more young people, pandemic permitting, in hopes of further promoting the initiative and showing youth what's available in their own district.
While it's been dubbed a network, Minialoff knows it's going to be so much more, what they do and how they do it is also being driven by the issues they face.
They hope to be adding more things to the resource map as time goes on including cultural resources and outdoor spaces.
"Now that we're officially launching our website and our brand - we intend to engage hundreds, if not thousands of youth throughout the district over the next few years," she said.
Minialoff and her team say they have big things planned moving forward as they look to empower the city's next generation of future leaders.