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Updated: Oct 4, 2020

By Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie

My name is Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie, and I’m 21 years old. I attend the University of Winnipeg and am currently in my 4th year in Indigenous Studies and Political Science, and work as a mentor at Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc. (Children of Tomorrow). I moved to Winnipeg in 2009 when I was

15 from Sagkeeng First Nation. I knew no one except for a few relatives. The smell of the car exhaust fumes, the noise of busy streets, sirens wailing, too many strange faces all around me, and the light pollution at night – it wasn’t the greatest experience, to say the least. I immediately missed living in Sagkeeng. I missed the Winnipeg River, the magnificent stars above me, the smell of organically-farmed homecooked meals, and the sounds of animals and birds inthe bushes. The bush was my backyard. I would spend hours upon hours outside playing with no supervision but the trees around me. I felt content with my surroundings. Now I was in a whole new world, the ‘Urban World.’

Transitioning from the reserve to the urban setting can be very difficult and at times lonesome, so I was on the hunt to find out what this new urban environment truly was. My grandmother has lived in Winnipeg for approximately 50 years. She has seen the changes the North End went through throughout the years. She always recounts memories of her early adult life going out to North End house parties and watching the fights between couples, rowdies, or foes. On a few occasions she will spot someone she used to know 20-30 years ago. I get the feeling that she’s slightly unhappy that so many haven’t healed from their residential school past. My grandmother went to a residential school in Sagkeeng, and even though she refuses to tell me what happened, she still faces the trauma it left behind. I lived with her for a few years when I moved to Winnipeg, and she told me the ‘ins & outs’ of the city. One time when I was 15, I got lost in the city and ended up in the South End by Grant Park Mall. She told me to walk around until I recognized my surroundings. Two hours later, I eventually found the 18 bus!

My mother would always tell me that when she was growing up in Winnipeg there were only a few programs out there for young people, so she would have to kill time roaming the streets. Moving to Winnipeg, I had no idea what programs were out there for youth, let alone Aboriginal people. After getting lost already, I wasn’t sure roaming around would be the best idea. Nowadays, there are Aboriginal youth programs everywhere in the North End.

Winnipeg's Aboriginal Youth Programs:

Urban eagle Transition Centre

Aboriginal Youth Opportunities

Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc.

Ka Ni Kanichihk

Pathways to Aboriginal Education Winnipeg

West End Cultural Centre

Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre

Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre

Indian Metis Friendship Centre

RAY Resource Assistance for Youth

Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc.

West Broadway Neighbourhood Association

Spence Neighbourhood Association

Manitoba's Youth in Care Network

B&L Resources for Children, Youth & Families

New Directions for Children, Youth & Families

TRY Training Resources for Youth

MacDonald Youth Services - STEP Program

Centre for aboriginal resource development - CAHRD

Songide ewin Program

Osborne Village Resource Centre

Urban Circle Training Centre

MB Youth Transitional Employment Mentorship - MYTEAM)

Rainbow Resource Centre

Sage House

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