The Grand Council of the Crees

Youth Center Opening Address by Deputy Grand Chief Ashley Iserhoff in Chisasibi, Quebec

Posted: 2006-02-20

On behalf of the Grand Chief and myself, I am deeply humbled to be invited to your community once again and to celebrate with you another one of your community's achievements.

In my last visit before my election as Deputy Grand Chief, I had the privilege to speak to a very large group of high school graduates and an extremely proud community in this same building. The building was not complete then, but this is the reason why we are here today. I am honored that you have asked me to share this day with you and be at your presence in opening of your new youth center.

Although I am not able to be with you today, I wish to share some of my own thoughts about youth centers. First, we all know that in our recent history as Cree people, youth centers have greatly advanced in size, architecture and costs. These projects can now only be achieved through a comprehensive process, but can be achieved.

Gone are the days of simple drop-in-centers or old halls turned into dance halls or canteens. These days may be gone, but will never be forgotten. There was nothing bad about them as we probably don't know, some of our parents probably met there. So to those that came up with the concept "drop-in-center or youth center", I guess all there is to say is - thank you!

Communities today go to great lengths to provide the best for their people, especially when it comes to their youth. By looking at this building, I can say this, Chisasibi you have done well for your youth this day and you should be proud!!!

Secondly, in my own experience growing up as a youth leader, I have had the privilege of visiting new and old buildings that were built exclusively for youth. In most cases, these facilities were realized because of the contributions and enormous efforts of a certain ambitious group of youth in our communities. It is unfortunate sometimes though that when these projects are complete, we tend to forget these individuals and along with their contributions. I would like encourage you to recognize the efforts to all those who contributed and those who are responsible to bringing this building from ground up as they each deserve your thanks.

We all know that there are many challenges in a community and one of greatest challenges is maintaining our facilities in tact for as long as possible. For this particular building, its longevity will rely on the youth. I would encourage all parents and leaders of this community to remind the youth that this building must be free from past and usual lessons such as vandalism, graffiti and break-ins.

I can tell you from my own experience that facilities such as this can bring many great things. It will be a place for special events such as this for years to come. You can organize anything, implement projects or events from this very building and in it. The opportunities are immeasurable. So let this center be your outlet to express yourselves through art and entertainment. Let it be your motivation, encouragement and a source of inspiration for your future.

To conclude, for a day like today, we should also take time to pay a special homage to those young people that are not able to witness this day and that will never have the chance to use this building. We must as always keep them close to our hearts so they will always be part of our lives and become part of our future. Miss them, think of them, and remember them always.

Once again, on behalf of the Grand Chief and me, we wish you the best with your new building. God bless you all and thank you once again for the invitation.