Service providers and community members gathered in Kenora yesterday to address bringing transitional age youth into the community.
Transitional age youth are roughly 16-18 years old and have been in some form of government care, such as child welfare and corrections.
Nan Norman, a member of the Kenora Substance Abuse and Mental Health Task Force helping host the conference at the Seven Generations Education Institute, noted the importance of embracing those youth.
“The youth come out of community in the first place. They're members of our community before they go into government care, and they should be in our community afterwards,” Norman explained. “We can't be losing them around the edges. There's something wrong if we can't bring them into the community, and what brings them into the community are the relationships we develop.”
Norman added there are 60 transitional age youth in just one of Kenora's three child welfare systems.
“One of the things that we've noticed in the last couple of years is there are more and more youth at the soup kitchens, at the shelters, on the streets, and the numbers are rising,” she said.
Transitional age youth had their say at the conference, recording voice messages explaining their needs and concerns.
Dave Segerts, a coordinator at the Ne-Chee Friendship Centre who has faced his own challenges growing up before making it in the movie industry, detailed the importance of the conference.
“If we send the youth to an organization and the organization doesn't know what to do with them, then we end up with a kid whose lost – a kid who may walk away and say 'I give up,'” he said.
The conference included speakers and open discussions. A final report was entered with the group's thoughts and goals for moving forward.
At night, a concert was held for the youth in attendance.
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