Youth committee looking to better support Inuvik youth

The Inuvik Native Band’s Youth Committee is currently working on a youth governance board that will create more opportunities for local youth

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Members from the Inuvik Native Band’s Youth Committee are currently in the midst of putting together a youth governance board in order to better support local youth throughout the community.

Committee members Brayden Koe, Elliot Colin, Myha Martin and Jazelle Pokiak have been putting the board together since June, and are now seeking at least 20 members from the community to join the organization.

What we want to do is focus all of our attention to youth – youth rights, youth opportunities,” said Koe. “Helping youth with other barriers and their daily struggles, regardless of their social background or their ethnic origin. We want to be able to bring all youth together and be a voice for all youth.”

Members from the Inuvik Native Band’s Youth Committee have been working since June to develop a youth governance board. From left to right: Myha Martin, Brayden Koe, Elliot Colin and Jazelle Pokiak. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo
Members from the Inuvik Native Band’s Youth Committee have been working since June to develop a youth governance board. From left to right: Myha Martin, Brayden Koe, Elliot Colin and Jazelle Pokiak. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo

Although the committee already hosts youth-oriented events such as movie nights and game nights, Koe said that the governance board will go beyond just hosting events and will look to address issues that youth face on a daily basis.

Bullying, racism, stereotypes, drugs and alcohol,” he said. “A lot of youth really just don’t have much to do, so what we want to try and do is create opportunities to give them things to do in the community.”

Colin echoed Koe’s sentiments, saying that alcohol and drugs are a big problem amongst the youth.

We hope to do something to maybe lead them away from that and teach them that there’s more out there than drugs and alcohol, because that’s like the norm these days,” Colin said.

He added that all youth have the ability to help each other.

Some of them could have experience that other youth didn’t get. If they did something wrong, they can teach them how to avoid that,” he said.

The group has a number of activities and events that they hope offer on a monthly basis through the governance board, which includes a formal ball, sporting tournaments, a community cleanup, youth rallies, on-the land trips and more.

What I’m hoping it will add is a collective for all youth that they can belong to, so that they can feel like their voices, their needs, their struggles – everything is heard,” said Koe. “Everything that they go through can be dealt with. Give them a place to go to. Give them things to do. Keep them active and busy.”

The committee is hosting an open-house for the governance board sometime in August, where Koe said that he hopes to meet more like-minded residents.

What we want to do is get all these people together, so we can figure out from each of them what their problems are with youth and what the youth told them is their problems,” he said.

He added that the reason why others should get on board is because “the youth are the future.”

We don’t want to lose the future…That way, there’s not just future generations that could possibly end up homeless. Drug addicts. People that would resort to criminal activity to get by,” he said. “We just want to create opportunities and hopefully rise to the point where we can give youth jobs.“

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Aaron Hemens served as the editor of the Inuvik Drum from January to August 2019. He's responsible for reporting on everything Inuvik, from covering community gatherings and sporting events, to writing the weekly columns. He's a dedicated photographer who loves getting to know the town through the community members that he meets. He's originally from Ottawa, Ont., where he graduated from Carleton University's journalism program in 2018. He can be contacted at 867-777-4545 or at inuvikdrum@nnsl.com. You can check out his photos on his Instagram account: @aaron.hemens.