It was on a Sunday morning when I read the “Youth on a Budget” article by Amy German (Nation, Vol. 17, Issue 11, April 9, 2010).

It didn’t come as a surprise to me hearing that the Cree Nation Youth Council are receiving major budget cuts for the new fiscal year. It would seem that the money would be sufficient for them to do some of their regular (regional?) programming.

As a youth myself, I have been wondering where the Youth Council, local and regional, stands in providing for the youth of the Cree Nation.

It has been some time since we have seen successful interaction from our young leaders to the youth. We keep hearing that they are there for the youth, but when you try to contact any youth office it seems that someone is not available because they are in a meeting somewhere down south.

I think that the Grand Council Board is wise to downsize the funding to the CNYC and to remind them that their position in the Youth Council is to provide positive interaction and participation with the youth from regular activities that are cost-efficient to cost-free. As opposed to the high-cost of travelling several CNYC board members from different communities either to Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa or Val-d’Or for a “meeting” that none of us youth have seen any healthy production from.

On different occasions, I have heard several youth, and adults as well, say that there is nothing being done for young people, and I believe them, which is probably why there is a staggering increase in teen drinking, drug use or abuse, and pregnancies. I’m pretty sure clinics in every locale can confirm that violence has gone up due to alcohol and drug abuse among young people. It seems that our young ones have forgotten how to be young teenagers.

The only thing I remember seeing each year from CNYC is their Annual General Assembly and the Annual Regional Canoe Brigade and a lot of meetings that the secretaries tell us of where our leaders are. I know I’m dragging this out of the dark, but come on, you were thinking it and I finally said it.

I believe that the Youth Councils, on any level (regional or local), should stay away from politics and start focusing on interacting with the youth. They should be positive role models and remind the youth how to be young, healthy teenagers. Like the role models I once had a decade ago, so I am sympathizing with the youth of our mighty Cree Nation and trying to sympathize with the CNYC for cuts to their massive travel budget.

I hope that this response will not enrage, but wake up our young leaders. They should consider this as constructive criticism rather not believing in their capability to lead.

“What you teach your own children is what you really believe in.” – Cathy Warner Weatherford

Anonymous Cree Youth, Age 21