The Manitoba government is investing more than $675,000 over three years in a successful youth-led mental health and addictions prevention program, Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke and Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.
“PAX Dream Makers promotes youth as the change makers, supporting their work toward Mino Pimatisiwin (the good life) by helping them develop and implement action plans for themselves and their communities,” said Clarke. “This investment will help students undertake training to become ‘Dream Makers’ and take on leadership roles that help them engage other children and youth in their schools.”
The new funding will support PAX Dream Makers, a youth engagement and leadership initiative that will provide two years of training and engagement to an additional 88 youth from Northern First Nation communities, Rolling River and other school divisions. These youth will become PAX Dream Makers and interact with children and youth in their schools and communities, inspiring more than 800 other young Manitobans, Clarke noted.
“By empowering youth to take leadership roles by creating peace, productivity, health and happiness, in their communities through PAX Dream Makers, we help them strengthen their relationships with each other and with youth in other communities,” said Stefanson.“This helps build stronger communities and leads to more positive mental health.”
Dream Makers participants and their adult mentors attend four gatherings over the course of 24 months. Teams are brought together from different schools, allowing youth from different communities to foster relationships and learn from one another. At the end of this process, youth Dream Makers take on the mentoring role for new Dream Makers.
“Our community is honoured by these PAX Youth Dream Makers and their passion to their communities and youth across Manitoba and beyond,” said Chief Jim Tobacco, Mosakahiken Cree Nation, Swampy Cree Tribal Council. “PAX Youth Dream Makers represent our commitment to our children and youth, as referenced in the Swampy Cree Annual General Assembly, unanimous passing of resolution #2019-001 to support PAX, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Aug. 7, 2019.”
Research has shown that students who participate in PAX do better in school and are more likely to graduate from high school. Participants need fewer special education services, have better mental health (including fewer suicidal thoughts/attempts), have fewer smoking, alcohol and drug addictions, and are less involved in crime into their adult years.
Recent outreach projects include:
• led by Pukatawagan PAX Dream Makers, an event was held at the Opaskwayak Cree Nation mall, where PAX was taught to the community and youth displayed clothing they had designed to represent their culture and traditions;
• led by Norway House PAX Dream Makers, mapping of safe mental health supports for youth in Norway House was conducted;
• a community clean-up event in Pukatawagan was led by Pukatawagan PAX Dream Makers;
• led by Chemawawin PAX Dream Makers, instruction for Indigenous youth from across Canada was provided to develop a vision for their home communities and how to make it happen at the Indspire conference; and
• in the spirit of reconciliation, a First Nations PAX Dream Maker cohort, is mentoring the newest PAX cohort from the Rolling River School Division.
The investment in the PAX Dream Makers program aligns with recommendations made in the VIRGO report to expand mental health and addictions community outreach, promote and support the use of self-management tools, support the flexibility of community-based service delivery, expand services for children and youth, and ensure the use of evidence-based approaches.
The ministers noted that PAX Dream Makers also directly responds to several Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action including eliminating educational gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, and establishing community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation.
The investment in PAX Dream Makers builds on more than $33.7 million invested in 19 mental health and addictions projects, the ministers said.
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