Message from Jean Lemieux, Health Director, Wabun Health Services
|There are so many people to thank for the development of the Wabun Youth Gathering. Our Chiefs played a major role in having the vision to direct and support the creation of the Wabun Youth Gathering. Our staff, chaperones, volunteers and mostly our youth participants also deserve credit for their efforts. A big Miigwitch, to Mike Archer Regional Crisis Coordinator for putting so much time and effort into making sure that these gatherings became a reality. He really cares about all of the youth who turn out to participate in the Wabun Youth Gathering and it shows in the respect and friendship that they have rewarded him with. I would be remise not to include a heart felt Miigwitch to the late Elder Thomas Saunders, of Brunswick House First Nation.
His long term goal was to develop a plan to rebuild what was lost in our traditions and culture. As part of a Traditional Healers / Elders Committee we had established, Elder Saunders directed and encouraged us to develop an annual Elders Gathering. He also felt that it was important to offer a sharing of culture and traditions to our youth. He in fact was a very important presence in providing us with the path that led to both the Wabun Youth Gathering and our annual Elders Gathering. Sadly, Elder Saunders became ill and then passed away before ever having the opportunity to attend these gatherings.
It takes an enormous amount of energy, experience and motivation to produce ongoing educational and healing developments such as the Wabun Youth Gathering. I have come to know many of our youth through these annual get togethers and it gives me great pleasure for the most part to see them survive, grow and thrive. I think that all of us that attend these youth gatherings feel more connected to and aware of our young people and they in turn feel better about us as parents, leaders and a resource that they can turn to. We will do our best to keep traveling down the path that Elders Saunders pointed to.