Youth here are getting another shot at a place they can call their own.
The former Tr’ondek Hwech’in language centre on Second Avenue, next to the Bonanza Market, is undergoing a major overhaul.
The building will be opened as a youth enhancement centre this April, says Glen Everitt, the recently hired Youth Enhancement Co-ordinator for the First Nation.
The former Dawson mayor was relieved of his civic duties in 2004 because of the town’s financial mess.
Mayor and council were replaced by a trustee appointed by the territorial government.
Everitt would not disclose the budget for the new youth centre.
“Lots,” he said.
Dawson City has been without an official youth centre since the town sold its former centre to local developer Mike Palma in 2004.
The new centre will provide much more programming than its predecessor, said Everitt.
“It was a building where people just went,” he said. “It focused mainly on games.
“It’s going to replace what was in the city one, but expand way beyond what was in the city one.”
The former language centre did have a short life as a youth centre, but that flopped with youth because of a lack of suitable programming and administration, said Everitt.
“The programming was not youth driven,” he said. “It wasn’t utilized to its full potential. The position was youth co-ordinator.
“That’s changed; it’s youth enhancement, which changes the whole concept.”
Carpenters are giving the centre a major internal facelift while a group of Dawson’s teenagers started to discuss programming they deem important,” said Everitt.
“Friday began the first youth meeting of teenagers to start identifying work plans. They spent two hours on Thaw-di-Gras, which is kind of neat, on a Friday.
“Thirteen of them started a process of identifying what they really want, not what we think they want.”
Issues raised included expansion of snowboarding terrain on the Dome and a multi-use facility that can host indoor soccer.
That is a priority, said Everitt. More than 120 Dawson youth and another 25 adults play indoor soccer eight months a year, he added.
“There are more youth playing soccer than hockey.”
The multi-use centre will house computers and a large-screen digital media area for movies and PowerPoint presentations.
“This will be on high speed and hooked into the high school portfolio system.”
There will be space for a pool table and lounge at the front of the building as well as a counter for arts and crafts, including carving tools.
The back of the building will provide ample storage space for recreation equipment.
A stereo system has been wired for interior and exterior sound.
Stairs and a ramp on the south side of the building will be removed for a volleyball court.
The rear garage will be used for mechanical training, such as small-engine repair and woodworking.
This space will be conducive to learning for teenagers by “providing proper instructors in a proper environment.”
Depending on programming, the centre will be available for First Nation and non-First Nation youth up to “their early 20s,” said Everitt.
He will act as a link between the youth and various government initiatives, such as federal youth entrepreneurship programs.
“We are looking at working with the federal government. (Youth) are going to create businesses where they are shareholders and so a lot of people in town will be asked to provide the skills.”
Programming and management decisions will be made by an inner council, under the constitution of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in. “They have authority,” Everitt said.
“That small circle provides the venue to go to chief and council and general assembly, with position for all youth in Dawson.”