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Vernon  

$1.17M for native youth

The Okanagan Indian Band received $1.17 million that will be used for various programs aimed at youths.

The announcement was made Thursday by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale as part of the National Crime Prevention Strategy.

The funding is part of a five-year extension to the existing program.

OKIB Chief Byron Louis said the money will benefit the entire community, with a focus on youth.

“This way we can start engaging youth and different community members that would benefit from this program, but more importantly I think it's to help us start really building a stronger community,” said Louis. “So far we are doing quite well socially, but we can always do better.”

Louis said the program will also benefit generations to come as well.

“Each and every parent has the opportunity to stop whatever it is, the dysfunctions that they grew up with and start a whole new cycle for their children and I think the message that needs to be said is you can as individuals, create that type of change,” said Louis. “Especially as parents because there is no greater opportunity to bring change to your children's lives as being parents that are healthy.”

Louis said once programs and services are identified, the money will be directed to those programs.

“We want to make sure we have a solid five year plan,” said Louis.

Goodale said the funding can bring critical resources to a community like more counselling, mentoring, outreach and education.

“We know that when it comes to crime prevention, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The Okanagan Indian Band’s approach is youth-centred, with a community capacity-building component that will help reduce and prevent youth violence – making our communities safer and ensuring more young people have the opportunity to succeed.”

Louis said the funding will also allow the band to be pro-active, rather than reactive.

“Some of the best ways is working with kids, working with families, working with people on how we can make changes to our community,” said Louis.



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