Leadership and resiliency funded

Student Novie Bordey, left, stands with principal Heather Pedjase at Diamond Jenness Secondary School in late 2013. The principal now says she's pleased the GNWT is helping out with $50,000 in funds for the school's youth resiliency programming.

Student Novie Bordey, left, stands with principal Heather Pedjase at Diamond Jenness Secondary School in late 2013. The principal now says she’s pleased the GNWT is helping out with $50,000 in funds for the school’s youth resiliency programming.

Diamond Jenness Secondary School has been awarded $50,000 from the GNWT to enhance its existing youth resiliency programming.

The school’s Leadership and Resiliency Program has existed for six years.

Principal Heather Pedjase said the school is pleased with the funding for the “very valuable” program.

“I think it’s turned some lives around,” she said.

The program deals with such skills as resiliency, coping and leadership, and helps students deal with the various issues they face in their lives.

Pedjase said a big piece of the program is aboriginal culture, which includes on-the-land programming and inviting elders to talk to students about Dene law.

“It’s a very good program,” she said.

Diamond Jenness is one of three schools in the NWT to receive funding for this school year to either pilot a project or enhance existing youth resiliency programming.

Along with Diamond Jenness, K’alemi Dene School in Ndilo was awarded $50,000 to enhance its existing resiliency program. Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School in Ulukhaktok was also awarded $50,000 to pilot a new resiliency program.

The funding was announced March 16 by Education, Culture and Employment Minister Jackson Lafferty.

Building resiliency in youth makes them stronger and better able to deal with challenges in their lives,” said Lafferty in a news release. “Resiliency programs help youth connect to the community and culture they live in. This encourages positive relationships, develops leadership skills and strengthens that young person’s identity and well-being.”

Pedjase added that the Leadership and Resiliency Program at Diamond Jenness had been funded in its first five years by the National Crime Prevention Centre.

This year, it had been supported by the school’s own resources.

“We really value the program itself, so we committed to it,” said Pedjase.

Each semester, about 60 students in grade eight to 12 participate in the program.

“The numbers are very good in it,” said Pedjase.

Schools were invited to apply for the GNWT funding through a proposal process. Applicants were asked to address selection criteria such as articulating the goals of their program, how it would bring the school and community together, and its cultural relevance to students.

Program co-ordinators from the three schools will work together with the Department of Education, Culture and Employment to monitor and evaluate the programs’ success as they are delivered through to June 2015.

Evaluation of the programs’ success in the three schools will help with decisions on possible further expansion of resiliency programming across the territory.

Research tells us that culturally-relevant resiliency programs see the most success,” said Lafferty. “Resiliency depends on strong relationships with others and the community youth live in. That means a resiliency program in Hay River would be different from a program in Ulukhaktok, for example.”

-Paul Bickford