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Youth facility here a first

The Fort Frances Tribal Area Chiefs are pleased to have been awarded a contract by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to operate the new 12-bed youth justice facility now being constructed in Fort Frances.

The facility is unique as it is an aboriginal-specific youth justice secure centre, which is the first of its kind in Canada.

Elders from local First Nations’ communities have assisted with naming the facility and ensuring the building’s design is integral to the programming.

The chosen name, Ge-Da-Gi Binez Youth Centre, is from the Ojibwe language and means “spotted eagle.”

The eagle is a sacred bird that carries messages from a person to the Creator. The actual spotted eagle represents the youth—young and learning.

Management of the facility will be carried out by Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services.

It, in turn, will utilize various resource organizations, including the Seven Generations Educational Institute, Weechi-it-te-win Family Services, Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services, Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre, and William W. Creighton Youth Services from Thunder Bay, to provide programming and support for youth in the facility.

These organizations, as well as the Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat, partnered to develop the service provider proposal which was submitted to the ministry.

“It is apparent that the present rehabilitation efforts being used for aboriginal youth does not work,” said Couchiching Chief Chuck McPherson, president of Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services.

“This facility will be the first of its kind in Canada dedicated to aboriginal young people in conflict with the law,” said Children and Youth Services minister Deb Matthews.

Ge-Da-Gi Binez Youth Centre will begin operations April 1, 2009 and will employ roughly 40 full-time and casual employees.

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