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NWT youth hit the road

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 15/05) - Nine youth from the territories will be travelling Canada this summer as part of the NWT Youth Abroad program.

Modelled after an initiative which has run in Nunavut for the past eight years, the program blends school credits, workplace training and volunteering, according to Mindy Willett, chair of the program.

Keith Sanders, a volunteer with the program, said "when they come back, they are absolutely stars.

"They go back to their communities and take on leadership roles," Sanders said.

The participating students include: A.J. Nadli from Fort Providence and Sam Jacobson of Tuktoyaktuk, both travelling to Peterborough; Rhonda John and Melissa MacPherson of Tulita who will travel to Bedford, N.S.; Paul Buggins of Hay River Reserve and Charles Lucas of Tuktoyaktuk who both will travel to Shubenacadie, N.S. and Rachel Constant of Fort Providence and Janelle Pierrot of Fort Good Hope who will travel to Ashton, Ont.

Melissa MacPherson is excited about her five-week journey to Bedford.

"I'm so excited and I hope to meet a lot of people," said MacPherson, who will be working for the World Wildlife Fund

Janelle Wilson of Fort McPherson said she "hopes to learn a lot of new things. I'll be working at the museum."

Samuel Jacobson from Tuktoyaktuk will be working with an adventure company and expects a great experience. "It will be the farthest I've travelled in Canada," Jacobson said.

Mark Cleveland, deputy minister of Education, Culture and Employment, said a partnership with Municipal and Community Affairs will contribute $100,000 to run the program for two years.

"We're really excited because of the opportunity it provides students.

"They can focus on their skills and knowledge and learning about their communities.

"They also then get to go across Canada and gain new experiences."

In 2006, an international phase of the program begins which will send students on volunteer placements to Africa.