What We Do
We run weekly youth nights in our drop-in centre dubbed “The Shack”, a building we were able to build in Aroland. With crafts, air hockey, foosball and video games as well as weight lifting equipment for the older teens/adults, this provides a place for the kids to get out of the cold, off the ‘streets’ and have some fun. There is also a wood working/workshop area for small projects and repairs
We host both teams and individuals who have come for a few days, a week or as long as 6 weeks, to assist in leading kayaks trips, play and interact with the kids over the March Break, Christmas and summer holidays.
We take First Nation kids on field trips; things like swimming, bowling and skiing in Thunder Bay and Minnesota. John is using his back country experiences of over 30 years to take teens off the reserve on kayaking trips into the wilderness. Since safety is most important, John is certified in Wilderness Advanced First Aid and has kayaking certification. Lakes Nipigon and Superior provide many challenges, along with time to interact and discuss life. We snowshoe and cross-country ski, heading out in the winter from the Shack or for overnights with our Prospector tent and wood stove. The winter is a great time to be outdoors, (no bugs) and it gives plenty of opportunity to learn wilderness survival.
Being together in the back country gives us a chance to build self-esteem, camaraderie and discuss one-on-one many of life’s lessons. Time in the wilderness helps break down barriers and gives the youth a chance to get away from negative influences that surround them.
We believe that a sense of hopelessness and lack of purpose are two of the factors that cause communities to develop problems. Our goal is to provide unconditional love to people, gain trust and respect and instil hope for their futures.
We try hard during our trips to promote healthy eating, living and well-being while instilling a sense of accomplishment, pride and community among participants. Since diabetes is becoming an epidemic among First Nations people, healthy eating and physical activity are heavily intertwined in our wilderness programs. The Canadian Medical Association Journal states, “The primary prevention of diabetes (in Aboriginal peoples) involves the promotion of healthy behaviours, especially achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight through increased physical activity and a balanced diet”. For a variety of reasons, the diet among first Nations peoples frequently consists of an excess of high sugar/carbohydrate foods.
We have been foster parents with a First Nations agency and have provided a home both for long term and emergency care for children and teens from reserves.