“Pointing kids in the right direction—which way do you want to go?” is the motto of the “Youth United” program run by the Sunset Country Métis.
But the program—which began in October on a six-month basis with funding by the Métis Nation of Ontario and Human Resources and Development Canada—may have nowhere to go itself when its funding runs out at the end of this month.
“We’ve submitted proposals to the Trillium Fund but we may won’t hear back until at least mid-April,” said youth mentor Lute Calder.
It is possible the program may stay alive if it receives a grant of at least $25,000 to keep it going through the summer. Beyond that, it would require between $50,000-$75,000 to complete this year.
“We realized about halfway through [the six months] that we didn’t know what we would do with the kids in our group once the money ran out,” Calder remarked.
Since October, the program, which employs five paid staff, has been giving a regular group of about 30 youth aged 10-14, “something to do.”
But the program has exceeded its original purpose—working not only to teach kids life skills like using the Internet, résumé writing, and multicultural appreciation but concentrating on giving youth a good name in the community.
“We’ve held youth dances, had field trips, and worked with Brad Herbert’s ‘Lil’ Eagles’ out of the United Native Friendship Centre,” noted Calder.
“And now that we’re at the end of our rope, we have to admit we really need community support to continue,” he stressed.
Calder and fellow mentor Ryan McMahon said they would stick with the program after their contract expires March 26 and work for free until mid-April in hopes funding would come through.
“As for what resources will be available for us in that span, we just don’t know,” Calder noted.
But he added “Youth United” would be allowed to keep its affiliation with the Sunset Country Métis even though there’s no longer any support from the Métis Nation of Ontario.