The Ontario Support Network (OSN) is an exciting new project that builds deeper partnerships between We Matter and a select number of Northern Ontario communities, and deeper relationships between youth and their supports across communities. The OSN mentors Youth Ambassadors and Community Guides to bring conversations of hardship, hope and healing into schools and communities by creating Indigenous-youth led mental health and life promotion initiatives focused on culture, community/on-the-land engagement, and peer-to-peer support.
Over the course of a year, 5 OSN Community Teams (Youth Ambassadors and Community Guides) engage in regular relationship-building and project planning with each other as well as the We Matter Team, in order to create and implement their youth-led projects in their own schools or communities. Community Teams attend a regional #HopeForum, participate in monthly Virtual Sharing Circles, and support each other in implementing their activities. Each Community Team has access to $2500 to put towards their project or initiative over the Winter and Spring.
Meet the 2018/2019 OSN Community Teams and learn about their projects!
Eabametoong started their project in the beginning of January with a Youth Night full of fun games and social activities, followed by a day on the land with shelter building.They will be hosting one youth night, and one traditional based activity per month!
Kashechewan has been doing some awesome planning in their community, and launched their project in December with a movie night at the school. We can’t wait to see what they have planned next!
My name is Natasha Broadent. I am 15 years old and I live in Manitou Rapids.
I used to live in a southern city named London Ontario, I liked living there but mostly because of the people there like my friends and family. Our family has always wanted to move north but we never really put enough enough. We moved because of my dads family, My dad was part of the 60s Scoop and never met his parents, him and my mom vigorously searched for any of his family, it was a real struggle for my dad because he often would fall into the belief that they did not want him. After a few years my dad found his mom in Rainy River First Nations. It was a very emotional reunite and we decided as family to move up to Manitou to reconnect with the family and who we are as aboriginal people. It was hard to leave everything behind and have a brand new environment, but I do not regret it.
Living here and being a youth means I get to see first hand on what my peers are going through. They are wonderful people filled with laughter and happiness, but they still have immense amount of trauma and mental health issues, the worst part is that no one listens to these youth, they often turn to unhealthy resources like drugs, alcohol and self harm. I noticed this and new that all they wanted was to be somewhere where they are not judged and they are not looked down upon, they just want to be loved and accepted. I was determined to do what I can to help them.
My aunt Francis Moore had landed a job with We Matter and told me about the OSN. I was immediately interested and jumped right on it. My brother and I were the youth ambassadors and Marcel Horton became our community guide. We got accepted and headed to Thunder Bay to meet everyone else involved.
Fast forward to today. We have a youth council fully formed with about 6 youth. We have 2 programs running as well as bi weekly youth council meetings on Tuesdays. Peer Support is a support circle where youth grades 8-12 support each other and interact with each other. This is on every Monday from 7:00pm-9:00pm. We have had very good turn out with at least 6 youth each time.
Homework Help is a tutoring program where you can come in and do your homework, get help on work or subject, or help younger grades on their work or subject. This group is open for grads 5-12 as well as tutors of all ages, tutors can have volunteer hours or $20.00. This is also had a great turn out on tutors and students.
We have had success fundraisers for a week long Taiwan Elders Language and Culture Conference through WINHEC on July 27th – August 2nd. Many youth have found interest in going and have put in a lot of effort fundraising. We recently had a Nacho Delivery fundraiser where we made and delivered nacho platters to homes in the community on Super Bowl night, this was a great success and the youth were very involved, during this time we had a Foot Ball pool which also had profit. 50/50 draws have also taken place. We even have an email and bank account for the fundraising money as well as accepting EMT’s.
Things here are going very well and my worries about youth not getting involved have dissipated. I am very happy to see that youth have gotten involved and that this program is going smoothly.
My name is Nathaniel Broadbent I prefer to go by Natu. I’m 15 years old and live in a small community called Manitou Rapids. Compared to where I live now I use to live in a southern city called London Ontario I lived there all my life however I do not remember over half of my life only small little glimpses of good things that happened but I believe it’s good I don’t remember the bad parts the only reason I lived in London was because my father was a victim of the sixties scoop and my dad was adopted to a British family in Timmins Ontario and my father was actually on his way to Sarnia Ontario for a job and met my mom in Strathroy Ontario and they pretty much stuck with each other forever still together this day my mom was a big change in his life my dad has been looking for his birth family for 38 plus years and found his mother 5 years ago and their first time meeting was the first time his mother has ever touched him after 30 something years of not knowing if he was alive until 2015 when she got an email saying her son was trying to find where his mother is and if she was still alive but now after a few years my whole family moved up to Manitou Rapids.
Marcel Horton was raised in his community of Rainy River First Nations/Manitou Rapids, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.
Marcel holds strong ties to his home and has worked throughout his adult life in positions of employment that would allow him to support his community, whether that be suring his time as both an OPP and First Nations police constable, community Education Counsellor, or community leader during his tenures as a Council Member. Being active in the community has helped ground Marcel in the realities and challenges that face many First Nations and the need for all to work collaboratively to ensure the community is home, a safe place, a place of acceptance, understanding and support for its Members.
Marcel believes in the importance of experience and education and encourages Members to step out beyond the community limits to gain work experience, life experience and pursue further education and training when the opportunities arise. These skills, strengths and gifts can be brought back to support a healthy, stronger community and can provide encouragement and support to others in their journeys.
Marcel is learning and sharing his gifts and has embarked on living a healthy lifestyle tied to culture and traditional teachings. The outdoors are his passion and he can be found in the bush with his family.
The programs we have are working really well the weeks are filled with programs we have a support circle every monday we have homework help every wednesday and every other tuesday we have our youth council meetings the programs have brought so many youth together and honestly the most I’ve seen them smile.
Boozhoo Drea nidizhinikaaz.I am in grade 11 at the Red Lake District High School.My goal for after high school is to become a Native Language teacher.
My name is Sheridan Marcellais and my traditional name is Zhooniiya Binesiikwe. I live in Red Lake and I want to become a mental health counsellor.
My name is Lorrie Rolland.I am the Wasanabin worker, (Ojibway meaning to look ahead), at the Red Lake Indian Friendship centre.This role allows me to work with Urban Indigenousyouth 13-18.
I am married and have 2 boys, 14 and 12.I moved to Red Lake in 2002 and fell in love with the place and the people, it is my home.I was born and raised in Newfoundland amerced in culture, however, it was not until I left did, I learn about my Mi’kmaq ancestors.
It is a privilege and an honour to work with the youth in my community and to help foster culture, identity and support.
My name is Michelle Kowalchuk and I am a lifelong resident of the Red Lake Community. I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and aunt. I enjoy being active with my family and within the community. I work as the Four Directions Graduation Coach at the Red Lake District High School. My job is to provide mentoring and guidance to First Nation, Metis and Inuit students to ensure that they are provided with a nurturing and safe environment, which supports them as they work towards graduating from high school.
Our goals for our community project are to educate and connect youth with culture, and to raise awareness on Indigenous issues. Some of the activities we are planning are; beading/mini-moccasin making teaching/activity, day out on the land, sweat lodge and a feast. We are also planning to launch our project through a sacred fire where we will share cedar tree, We Matter and our community project information.
Whitesand has also been planning away and is prepared for a floor hockey tournament on February 2nd, and is doing prep work for a youth retreat to Old Whitesand later on in March!