Moose Factory Island’s Youth Centre: a positive place for personal growth

Ahnee: Welcome
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The John R. Delaney Youth Centre is a focal point for recreation and cultural activity year round for young people living on Moose Factory Island on James Bay.

As winter settles in over the southern tip of James Bay, there are plenty of activities the youth of Moose Cree First Nation can enjoy and take part in on Moose Factory Island. On any given night, you can find up to 40 kids at the John R. Delaney Youth Centre participating in sports activities in the high school gym next door or socializing while taking part in one of several interest courses that celebrate aboriginal heritage and culture.

It took years of vision and planning but, with a $370,000 FedNor contribution, the First Nation community was able to finally build the John R. Delaney Youth Centre, opening its doors in July of 2009. It has been a dream realised according to Jay Monture, the Youth Centre’s Manager. “Study after study demonstrated the critical need for an appropriate youth-dedicated facility and for increased positive opportunities for youth,” says Jay. “Today the centre provides an upbeat, constructive setting that promotes tolerance and respect to encourage positive development and personal growth, and build on community traditions”.

Every picture tells a story
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New hand-painted murals by the young people of Moose Cree First Nation adorn the reception area inside the John R. Delaney Youth Centre on Moose Factory Island.

With a complement of four youth workers, it promises to be a busy and productive year ahead at the John R. Delaney Centre as staff develops and implements various programs that will encourage youth participation in community life. Apart from the busy gym schedule which operates seven days a week, teenagers will soon be enrolling in Cree culture and language courses or, for the younger set, joining the boys and girls Wolf Spirit Club. There are even plans to offer multi-media arts workshops where young people can learn the basics of photography, radio and television broadcasting as well as video production. When it comes to program planning, Jay and his staff employ a pretty effective formula. “Ask the kids”, he says. “If it’s doable, we want to enable our young people to create their own opportunities as they build on their life skills.”

The complex is dedicated to the late John R. Delaney, a much-loved teacher who moved to Moose Factory Island when he was a young man and was well-known for his involvement with youth. For decades, Mr. Delaney worked to promote leadership, development and discipline, inspiring young people to better themselves. Today it’s Jay Monture providing the mentorship role for this latest generation of young people in addition to raising his own family on the First Nation he has called home for 10 years now. In a community where almost 60 percent of the residents are under the age of 30, the John R. Delaney Youth Centre assists and encourages youth to maximize their potential.

“The response to the Centre has been both exciting and encouraging,” says Mr. Monture. “Our youth are even tackling a year book project to document the many good things happening at the Centre that they will produce and distribute. That shows me the Centre is empowering young people and having a positive impact.”

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