It’s been a difficult year but the one-year celebration said it all. You could feel that the youth knew they have survived and will continue to be a vibrant part of the Montreal urban Native community. The events began a bit late because there were a few important people missing. But once it got started, it was uphill the whole way. The people were very interesting and the evening unraveled beautifully. Darlene Wapachee gave the opening speech. Then the celebration of Youth Center started. It was a great time for everyone there. The people who started the Youth Center a few years back were there to give their own speech on how they thought the Youth Center has evolved. Darlene Wapachee, the center’s tribal youth coordinator spoke on behalf of the staff when she said how proud she was for making it this far.

The Center has suffered quite a bit during this past year. The Center was almost forced to close down because of financial problems but they never gave up hope and got back up on their feet stronger than ever with bigger dreams and aspirations. After Darlene’s speech, awards were given out to the people who the center’s animators thought were good workers and strong believers in the youth center and who were good role models for the youth that showed up regularly. The awards were given to the volunteers of the center for their outstanding achievements and good-natured spirit towards the Youth Center. Donavan Brass, Martin Dube, Nick Gianino, Bonnie Jerome, and Chris Kuhn were the proud recipients of the awards.

Just before supper, which was excellent Indian Tacos, Devan Skerret sang a song in Cree about joy, love and strength. It was very good and I’m sure it touched all of our hearts. The staff made the Indian tacos but unfortunately the night was such a success that there were not enough tacos for everyone. Pizza had to be ordered to replace the missing tacos, which was not so bad either. I was one of the lucky ones to have pizza.

While we waited for the surprise dessert to arrive, Danick Duchesne sang songs in Montagnais. He explained what all the songs meant. There were too many to mention here. He played his own instrument (the guitar) and sang with a very nice voice.

Not long after supper, the inter-tribal youth mural was presented to the audience. It was a beautiful mural painted by the youth of the Native Friendship Center. A great deal of hard work went into completing it.

They presented a short film on their trip to New Mexico. It lasted a few minutes. But on August 13th’ a longer version will be put together for the viewers who want to know more about what they did on their wonderful trip to New Mexico. They urge you to come in great numbers. Hope to see you there.

Afterwards, the evening was just about finished except for a dance that was organized by Gene’s Music from Kahnawake. They set up their karaoke machine and waited for people to show up and sing. Unfortunately, the room was filled with shy people except for one woman who must have gone up about five times all by herself. That was too bad for everyone else because there were prizes given out to the winners and since she was the only one who went up, she won the prizes.

The Friendship Center would like to thank Shauna Sutherland, the activities coordinator, for her exceptional work and dedication she’s given to help get the youth center started and running. She was there through tough times and good times. But unfortunately, she will be leaving the Friendship Center to go back to her native homeland, British-Columbia. The Center will miss you Shauna.

The youth animators were also recognized for all the hard work they’ve put into the Youth Center. A big thanks goes out to all of them. Orania Gros-Louis, the youth councilor was also appreciated and recognized by the Center but she couldn’t be there the night of the celebration.

“Throughout the year we did incredible things and we still have funding for this year as well. We are looking forward to this year.” Darlene Wapachee said. All who participated in the event wanted to thank Tracey Wysote for her time and effort to make the evening a great success.