With everything in place for a youth conference April 9-10 at the Couchiching Bingo Hall, organizers now are hoping more people sign up before the March 28 deadline.
“I’m hoping to get at least 100 people there. Right now, we’re sitting at about half of that,” said Crystal Godbout, project co-ordinator with the Rainy River Future Development Corp., which is co-sponsoring the conference with Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services and Couchiching First Nation.
So far, she noted, registrants have hailed from Fort Frances and Couchiching, as well as Nestor Falls, Northwest Bay, and elsewhere in Rainy River District.
Godbout said the event—aimed at youths aged 14-19—has been promoted at district schools, with notices also being sent to family counselling services and group homes.
Topics, and their respective presenters, include:
•Racism—with Moffat Makuto of the Regional Multicultural Youth Council in Thunder Bay;
•Drinking and driving—with Fort Frances OPP Cst. Dereck McLean and Cst. John Williams, who will explain everything from the graduated licence system and operating a motor vehicle while impaired to the use of roadside tests and breathalyzers;
•Date rape—with Det. S/Sgt. John Horne, unit commander of the Tri-Force/Kenora Joint Forces Drug Unit; and
•Bullying—with Dan Heidt, considered one of the top five bodyguards in the United States (he once protected Arnold Schwarzenegger) and an expert on the intervention and prevention of school and workplace violence.
A strong component of these sessions will be to establish a communication and information-sharing network.
Workshops following these sessions also will serve as a forum for youth to develop strategies on the information gained, said Godbout.
Keynote speakers will include:
•Insp. Glenn Trivett, who has been in policing for 18 years and currently is running a First Nations program in his branch. Trivett is a traditional pipe carrier with particular responsibilities to teach young men about healthy relationships;
•S/Sgt. George Couchie, with the Anishnabek Police Service, who has been recognized nationally for his commitment to the development of community-based programs focusing on healthy lifestyles, in particular programs for aboriginal youth;
•Tamara McDonald, an OAC student who is president of the Regional Multicultural Youth Council in Thunder Bay and recent recipient of the 2002 Lincoln M. Alexander Award—an award saluting youths who demonstrate “leadership in promoting racial harmony and eliminating discrimination in their school or community”; and
•Matt John Evans, an actor and educator, will provide “edutainment,” using humour and true stories—and not fear tactics or graphic photographs—to illustrate the realities that youth face, like drinking and driving.
Anyone wishing to register, or who needs more information, is urged to call Godbout at 274-3276. Registration forms also should be available at your school.
The cost to attend the two-day event, in which registrants must have signed permission slips from both their parents and school, is $10 per person, which will include nutritional breaks and lunch each day.