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‘Youth United’ to receive shot at long-term funding

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Sunset Country Métis’ “Youth United” program may be around for longer than it previously thought because financial aid in the form of a grant from the Métis Nation of Ontario’s Aboriginal Healing and Wellness program may be in the cards.

“We’re excited about the possibility of getting funding from them,” said program co-ordinator Lute Calder, who added he became aware of the possible grant late last Wednesday.

Calder said under the Healing and Wellness program, communities in Ontario with an established Métis organization would be eligible to write four proposals to the MNO, including one covering the education of youth (for which “Youth United” qualifies).

The proposal is being put together now, and must be submitted by March 31.

“If the proposal does go through, it gives us a chance to run the program for a full year,” Calder remarked. “Then there will be an evaluation after one year.

“If it goes well, it could become a regular program,” he added.

The local program also recently applied for a grant from the Trillium Fund, which may only result in sufficient funding to carry it through the summer.

But those few months could very well be enough to get the program the attention it seeks in the community, program mentor Ryan McMahon said.

“Everything is just starting to run smoothly,” he noted, adding the program has been picking up steam once it found direction after starting up last October.

“If we get the funding, which we’ll find out on April 16, on May 1 we’ll expand the program to include youth from St. Francis and J.W. Walker,” McMahon said.

Since its inception, “Youth United” has dealt only with a regular group of 20 kids in grades six-eight from Robert Moore School here.

All those youths, McMahon hoped, then could participate in a host of summer activities the program has been brainstorming, including everything from camping to highway clean-ups.

As well, the grade eight students now in the program could stay on as leaders to help out with the potentially greater number of youths in the program, making for a learning experience.

“If we can keep the program going through the summer, I have no doubts about getting funding after that,” McMahon said. “After we prove that we can make a ‘go’ of it, nothing should stand in the way of the program’s longevity.”

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