Baffin youth look ahead
Annual working paper planned

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Feb 15/99) - What's on tap for 1999?

Just ask the Baffin Regional Youth Council because as of the end of January, it was well on its way to having a firm handle on activities for the coming year.

Along with making a big shift towards becoming a more active and efficiently organized working council, the BRYC successfully put together what it calls its working paper for 1999 during its annual Face to Face meeting in Iqaluit last month.

Including drawing up a cohesive list of the problems that youth face in the Baffin region, the working paper includes a list of solutions and projects that would work to ease the troubles of youth while promoting healthier lifestyles.

"We're going to continue with the annual projects we do, such as the university education program or the summer camp. In addition, one of our biggest priorities is suicide," said Raurri Qajaaq Ellsworth, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association's youth department co-ordinator.

"We want to be a little more strategic in putting on activities to address the issue of suicide, look at the basic components within it and address each of the roots of the problems."

One such solution includes prompting people around the island to keep their spare gasoline locked up and lobbying stores to keep their hairspray and other toxic products behind the counter. Ellsworth explained that this would go a long way towards cutting down on substance abuse that often leads to suicide.

He also noted the council planned to dedicate much of its time during the upcoming year to finalizing plans for the Nunavut Lodge.

In the works since 1995, the commercial tourism lodge will be operated and developed exclusively by youth.

"We'll be working on a training plan to get funding together to train youth in all areas that are going to be needed, including the construction of the lodge, management, cooking, booking, marketing, outfitting. We'll make sure they have the necessary skills and experience and comfort level," said Ellsworth.

The youth-driven business plan and marketing strategy were in the final stages of being looked over by a professional and Ellsworth said that finalizing a site for the lodge somewhere outside of Iqaluit would likely go ahead this winter.

He added the BRYC was looking at partnering with an experienced organization during the first years of business to ensure the lodge prospered.

"We're in talks with (Qikiqtaaluk Corporation) to come up with a possible ownership structure. They have the expertise and access to the resources."

Ellsworth said all lodge profits would be directed back into youth activities and additional business ventures, and he said the council hoped to wholly own the business in the future.