Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, when I was growing up, I would attend the day camp program at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre every summer. That’s where I learned how to make a bed with pine boughs, cook bannock over an open fire, and snare a rabbit.

I’m happy to say that after all these years, the Friendship Centre’s tradition of educating youth is as strong as ever, but now, it’s focused on delivering programs to develop job skills and provide work experience. Just this past Friday, our Member of Parliament was in Hay River where announced that the Friendship Centre is receiving a federal grant of nearly 1.3 million dollars to support projects that provide hands-on work experience, job search assistance and skills upgrading. This money will help train 60 youth over the next three years.

MP Michael McLeod and Executive Director Shari Caudron

Mr. Speaker, the feds don’t usually just hand you seven figures without proof that you can put it to good use.

When it was time to tear down the arena in Hay River, the Friendship Centre recognized an opportunity and partnered with industry to train 23 youth in asbestos abatement. Twenty-two of those youth received their certification, and 80% of them went on to work on the arena project.

Recognizing the growing manufacturing sector in Hay River, the Friendship Centre has again partnered with industry and will soon begin running carpentry program that will develop essential industry skills, and provide work experience.

Their also adapting a youth and elder catering program that has been proven effective in other regions of the Territory.

Just yesterday there was an article on CBC North about the commercial fishing training  program the Centre is running. In the fall, the Centre will offer a much more robust version of the program in association with the NWT Fishermen’s Federation and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. It will include intensive hands-on training, and Transport Canada marine industry accreditation. This will prepare youth to work in the fishery, as well as the shipping industry and the Coast Guard.

The Centre also runs an entrepreneurial training program for youth who have multiple barriers to employment, and four youth are now employed as a direct result of this program.

All of these programs are in addition to providing numerous community services, running a youth centre, putting on seniors programs, and hosting a number of community events.

Mr. Speaker, I was going to talk about how Friendship Centres in the NWT are underfunded and have to piece together monies to provide programing while deferred maintenance costs add up, despite the fact that Friendship Centres can leverage up to 7 dollars from other sources for each dollar invested.

But, Mr. Speaker, I wanted to focus instead on the good work being done, and to personally thank the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre for what it does for our youth, our community, and the NWT.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.