Arctic Children and Youth Chairman message, Playing to strength

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Whit Fraser 

I am pleased to say Our Foundation is embarking on an exciting new program “Playing to Strength” that we believe will make a difference in the lives of Arctic Children and Youth, and the northern community in general.
“ Playing to Strength”,gives the Foundation a morefocused approach than we have had in the past and we are delighted that the Government of Canada through the Department of Human Resources and Skills development has committed to invest five hundred thousand dollars into the program over the next three years.

The program will be a moderated and accountable arctic wide, youth discussion that plays to the strengths of Arctic Children and Youth. It will be designed and operated on the knowledge that in terms of today’s internet technology and mentality, Arctic youth are on an equal footing with their counterparts in other parts of the country and the world. They have “tuned in” to the new technological world and the ACYF believes that is a strength that we can and should build on.

The overriding message we are bringing to both arctic youth and potential sponsors is based on the premise that everyone is aware that social challenges and cultural clashes confronting the Aboriginal Youth across Northern Canada are complex and wide ranging; from inadequate housing, to employment, edu­cation and training, a high school dropout rate of up to 80% in some areas, and most painful of all, a suicide rate that is 11 times the national average. It is a crisis complicated further by dis­tance and isolation associated with Arctic living.

We also know there are strengths and that is why we choose “Playing to Strength” as our title. ACYF also believe the search for solutions to today’s complex social and economic Arctic issues must include greater participation from the youth themselves. That is why we will be reaching out to youth to participate directly.

Our message and invitation to Arctic youth is clear, and straightforward. Through “Playing to Strength” we want to encourage you to participate and speak out on the critical issues that you confront in your daily lives. Moreover, we will record, analyze and disseminate your views and ideas to others, including Governments and potential employers, to ensure that your voices are heard and considered.

The Government of Canada’s contribution through Human resources and Skills Development calls for a private sector sponsorship, equal to one dollar in five that can be on the basis of either cash or in kind.

I have been in touch with a number of northern business and organizations, and I am most encouraged by the positive response we have received.

First Air responded immediately providing in excess of 15 thousand dollars in air fares for the coming year.

In the coming weeks, the Foundation will be asking Arctic organizations, business and individuals for specific in kind donations or cash partnerships.