WIKWEMIKONG— Close to 20 Wikwemikong youths gathered at the band council chambers last Monday night to share their concern that volunteers with a group called HOPEyouth were no longer being allowed into Wikwemikong Board of Education school gymnasiums to run after school programs.
Fifteen-year-old Aurora Ominika-Enosse contacted The Expositor, sharing her consternation at the rule. She told The Expositor that HOPEyouth “does amazing things for the youth in my community.”
“This group was willing to come into our school and be our coaches because we have so few coaches,” she continued. “This group does amazing things out of their own good will, nobody forces them to do anything! They don’t get paid for it at all. They make the youth in our community happy and I can tell you honestly that I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for this group. Our students want our voices heard and want HOPEyouth back.”
Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier acknowledged that the group was in attendance at last week’s chief and council meeting, explaining that the youth wanted to ensure the availability of the gymnasium (Wikwemikong High School) on Wednesday evenings.
“Council agreed with having the gym available for rental for them,” the chief said, but added that the matter is still before council.
He noted that approximately 80 people had been coming to the gym on Wednesday nights under HOPEyouth, which council is happy to see, but that chief and council are waiting for background checks on those running the program and to find out “what their intentions are. If it is strictly recreational, that’s fine.” When asked whether there was a religious element to HOPEyouth’s involvement and what that would mean for the gym nights, the chief responded with “it would definitely change the parameters.”
Chief Peltier said he was pleased to see those youth so engaged with the council table. “We want them to bring forward their concerns so we can come up with solutions.”