Niigan Mosewak is a free week-long leadership camp, held twice per summer, for Aboriginal youth from North Bay and surrounding areas in North Eastern Ontario.
As its title suggests (Anishnaabe for "moving forward"), the camp's goal is to openly talk about the high drug, alcohol and suicide rates in Aboriginal communities, to learn about the residential school system and how it destroyed Aboriginal families, cultures, languages and self-esteem and to share ways on how to make positive lifestyle choices for a healthier future while supporting each other along the way. Discussions and teachings include drug and alcohol awareness, drum building, healthy relationships, internet safety, leadership skills, mask making and team building experiences.
Constable Steve Chabbert, pictured above with a few of the 53 participants during the camp held from 17 to 21 August 2015, represents the North Bay Police Service as one of the camp's counsellors. The Ontario Provincial Police, Anishinabek Police Services and UCCM Anishnaabe Police Services also send representatives each year. Counsellors stay for the duration of the camp, which takes place at Spirit Point Lodge in Trout Creek.
Thanks to the efforts of George Couchie (pictured below), a former police officer with the North Bay Police Service, who created the leadership program six years ago, the camp is proving to be a very popular and valuable experience for Aboriginal youth. Many of the participants are proud to return to the camp as paid mentors and positive role models for their younger peers. To learn more about Niigan Mosewak, which may include a third week next year, visit YouTube.