Skip to main content

Uskâu Ihtûwin: New Paths for Youth in Waswanipi

Summary

On May 24, 2024, a special project called Uskâu Ihtûwin started in Waswanipi. It’s part of Quebec's "Aire Ouverte" program. This is the first time this program is in an Indigenous area. It helps young people aged 8 to 35 with mental health and wellness. 

Content

On May 24, 2024, a special project called Uskâu Ihtûwin started in Waswanipi. It’s part of Quebec's "Aire Ouverte" program. This is the first time this program is in an Indigenous area. It helps young people aged 8 to 35 with mental health and wellness. 

The project was made after talking a lot with the young people in Eeyou Istchee to understand what they need. Uskâu Ihtûwin means "New Ways." It offers help and activities that make young people feel well, connected to their culture, and part of their community. The Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB) and other local partners are working together on this project. 

  • Image
     Bertie Wapachee, chairperson of the CBHSSJB
  • Image
     Uskâu Ihtûwin means "New Ways
  • Image
    "Aire Ouverte" program
  • Image
    Waswanipi Youth Center
Community Focus  

 

Uskâu Ihtûwin is in the Waswanipi Youth Center and the Cultural Youth Dwelling. These places give young people a safe space to meet elders, do traditional activities, and get health and wellness services. They can learn things like hunting, trapping, and storytelling. 

Michael Neeposh, a Cree culture teacher, says it’s important to keep Cree culture alive. "It is important to keep Cree culture and language in the face of modern distractions. I encourage youth to learn from elders and practice their culture," he says. 

Remote video URL
Support from Leaders  

 

Many leaders support this project. Grand Chief Mandy Gull Masty of Eeyou Istchee says, "Youth today face many different challenges and issues. I am eager to see how this Uskâu Ihtûwin project will help the community." 

 Bertie Wapachee, chairperson of the CBHSSJB, says, "We can do a lot if we work together for the well-being of our youth and communities." 

 Quebec's Minister Ian Lafrenière says, "It is important to work together and understand different communities. Keeping our language and culture is important because losing them means losing part of our identity." 

 Lionel Carmant, Quebec's Minister for Social Services, is proud of the project. "I am proud that the new service blends clinical expertise with traditional Cree values. This project shows how we can mix modern and traditional ways to help youth," he says. 

 

 Looking to the Future  
 

Joey Saganash, a Public Health Advisor, says that informal settings are best for youth. "The best way to interact with youth is in informal settings. The Cultural Youth Dwelling allows them to practice Cree culture and traditional activities," he explains. 

 The Uskâu Ihtûwin project is part of the Aire Ouverte model, which aims to set up similar places across Quebec by 2026. The government has put $40 million into this. 

 Denis Lamothe, Deputy of Ungava, says, "The creation of Uskâu Ihtûwin in Waswanipi shows the government's commitment to providing services to Cree youth in the region." 

 

 A Bright Future 

 

 The start of Uskâu Ihtûwin is a big step in helping Indigenous youth in Waswanipi with their mental health and wellness. By mixing traditional values and modern practices, the project aims to empower youth and improve the community. This project could become a model for other Indigenous communities in Quebec and beyond. 

Our Partners

Image
Grand Council of the Crees logo
Image
Santé et des Services sociaux logo
Image
Health Canada logo