More than 400 people gathered at the Waswanipi Youth Centre on August 23rd to celebrate the launch of a new project and meeting space by and for Uschinîchisûch. Uskâu ihtûwin provides tailored preventive psychosocial and health promotion services, and links youth to important community resources.
The project launch was well-received and celebrated by youth, parents, Elders, and community partners alike on August 23.
The opening ceremony included presentations on the community-based project development history and service offer, speakers including Waswanipi Chief Irene Neeposh, a catered supper, prize draws, and ice-breaker activities and free promotional merchandise featuring the project logo created by youth. Attendees were also invited to tour the new space and speak to staff members - reflective of the project’s open-door approach and dedication to meeting youth where they are.
“What made it happen was everybody having the same vision for this project – and believing in it. Meeting where they are.” - Joey Saganash, Public Health Advisor - Uschiniichisuu and Uskaau ihtuuwin Project Manager
An innovative approach to reach Uschinîchisûch
Located in the Waswanipi Youth Center, this innovative approach seeks to improve service delivery and support to Uschinîchisûch who may be vulnerable, hard to reach or who do not consult with more typical clinical services, to improve pathways to resources between departments and organizations and prevent mental health problems.
Elder Edith Gull was instrumental in mobilizing the community of Waswanipi to become the first site for this innovative approach, following an application call-out for the project to all communities in April 2022. She continues to be strong support throughout the project’s development.
The project was adapted by the Cree Board of Health Public Health Uschinîichisû team in collaboration with community youth and local organizations and is based on the Quebec provincial Aire Ouverte project.
The space includes a lounge, desks and computers, office space, healthy snacks, and games – and was designed and built by youth to make it a place they want to spend their time. As part of the project, another important cultural dwelling space was also built for youth to have easy access to cultural and traditional practices with the team and Elders.