Indigenous youth are learning new skills.
The six-week Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) is running at the Northern College's campus in Porcupine this week. There are 21 Indigenous students between the ages of 16 and 19 years taking part in the program that started July 15 and runs until Aug. 28.
"They learn a wide variety of skills related to natural resources and its land-based education as well," said Shawna MacLean, the on-site facilitator. In addition to learning new skills, the high school students will earn certificates and credits.
Today, they learned how to make a dream catcher and other crafts. MacLean is happy that the workshop is going without any difficulties.
"It's been great. It's really a good program. I wish I had the opportunity to have something like this in high school," she said.
Though most of the participating youth are from the Timmins area, some are from Moosonee.
Ava Edwards is participating for the second year.
"Last year, we were actually learning. This year, we already know how to do the stuff," she said.
She is also interested in participating next year if she gets the opportunity.
Edwards says she is learning a lot and is happy for the opportunity to socialize and learn more about the culture.
"You learn a lot of stuff. Because people from across Canada are coming," she said.
Locally, participants learned about teepee construction, dream catchers and moccasins. They also experienced virtual reality and 3D printing technology in the campus research facilities.
Originally from Moosonee, Christian Iserhoff has been with the program for six years. As a team leader, he thinks they all are doing well with the workshop.
They were staying at the Esker Lakes Provincial Park and moved to Northern College campus on Monday. He is happy with the "new opportunities and challenges" the location offers.
He said meeting new people also gives participants an advantage after the workshop is done.
"I see myself growing, and I see this new person growing," he explained.
The program is designed to provide a safe and predictable learning environment for the Indigenous youth.
Many people from Northern College are helping the team, including Indigenous services and initiative assistant Armanda Sutherland.
She is delighted that the young people are doing well.
"Since I have been here, I have never seen one person look at the phone," she said.