By Rick Garrick
Beausoleil’s newly organized Youth Council is looking to build a new youth centre in the centre of the community of about 700 on-reserve citizens.
“Our goal is to encourage our youth more in more positive activities,” says Beausoleil Youth Council Chief Terra Roy. “We’ve been getting our mandate in place and we’ve held a few youth forums just to get ideas on what our youth in the community want and [we’re] seeking YOF [Youth Opportunities Fund] funding.”
The Youth Council also met with Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee during an Anishinabek Education System Information Session and the Youth Council’s inauguration ceremony on Nov. 15.
“I feel like it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity especially since he gifted us with an Eagle Feather,” Roy says. “And how he went on the day after saying how we inspired him.”
The Youth Council was created in October from a youth advisory committee. The community has about 250 youth.
“We got more and more participation, so we kind of updated ourselves to a Youth Council,” Roy says.
Beausoleil Youth Council Chief Councillor Robin Louttit says the Youth Council works closely with Chief and Council in the community. The Youth Council also does opening and closing smudges at their meetings.
“It helps us get rid of bad energy and lets us be open-minded throughout the whole meeting,” Louttit says. “And we do the closing smudge so we can carry on with that.”
Louttit says the community also holds water ceremonies once a month on the full moon.
“It’s about giving thanks to our water, the water that was given to us by Gitche Manitou,” Louttit says. “Everyone is welcome.”
Beausoleil Youth Council Councillor Avery Sandy says it is important for youth to participate in the community.
“I’ve always really put myself out there and tried to volunteer here and there,” Sandy says, noting she volunteers with Right to Play. “I go there three times a week and just work on leadership skills and stuff like that.”
Sandy says the Youth Council is planning to attend the Assembly of First Nations gathering in Saskatchewan in June, 2017.
“We’re planning to take our Youth Council up there to kind of gather knowledge to bring back home to our youth to encourage them to get out there and spend their time with their community and giving back and helping out,” Sandy says. “It really does take a community to raise a child.”
Beausoleil Youth Council Councillor Grant Mixemong-Cass says the Say Yes to AES campaign has given youth a greater interest in their education.
“It will benefit us because the students on our reserve are behind when they get to high school,” Mixemong-Cass says.
Beausoleil Youth Council Councillor Lance Copegog says it was a “great experience” to meet with Madahbee during the Youth Council’s initial meeting with the community on Nov. 15.
“We all got to make remarks and address the people that were gathered there,” Copegog says. “Grand Council Chief Madahbee was really impressed with our Youth Council. One of the things he said to us really stood out. In my speech … I said something like we are the leaders of tomorrow, but Grand Council Chief Madahbee said that we are the leaders of today.”
Copegog says Madahbee’s comment about being leaders of today has become one of the Youth Council’s guiding principles.
“We’ve realized we aren’t the leaders of tomorrow, we’re the leaders of today so it is important for us to develop those skills when it comes time for us to govern,” Copegog says.