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Canada Fall Update

Over a year ago, Hope Story was introduced to the New Hope Fellowship Church in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Over 10 years ago, this First Nation’s led church initiated a youth centre dedicated to serving First Nations youth (the “New Hope Youth Centre”). While youth from all backgrounds are welcome, the focus is on serving First Nations youth. Most of these young people hail from reserve communities in Northern Ontario and have come to Thunder Bay for secondary or post-secondary school. “They often struggle with loneliness,” shared Dan, who volunteers with the centre. Many First Nations youth board with families unfamiliar to them while they attend school.

The Youth Centre had been serving 10-20 youth on an ordinary Saturday night, but without regular staff, the centre has struggled over the years to maintain the momentum. “Many of our leaders have been students themselves, but they get burnt out as there is so much need,” shared founding Board Chair Clarence Meekis. Now, with your help, we can renew the momentum that started this outreach for vulnerable youth in Thunder Bay.
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Like all community centres, New Hope had to shut down in the spring when COVID hit. Yet, by the summer, through your support, we were able to hire an intern, Tyse Piening to prepare for the Fall and reach out to the youth. Tyse also repaired a washroom and prepped adjacent office space owned by the Youth Centre and rented out to provide sustainable income for operations. Throughout the summer, he also organized outdoor bonfires, volleyball and baseball games to keep the youth connected.
One week a young man shook visibly during a time of worship. A volunteer asked what was wrong, and the youth shared about his siblings’ struggle with drugs and addiction. He shared that part of him felt drawn to this lifestyle, but that he wanted a life with Jesus. Another young girl, who spends her nights on an air mattress, shared about the burden of taking care of her mother – who struggles with addictions.
 
 
 
 
 

We want to see New Hope growing its youth outreach and opening its doors more – providing the teens with the safe and supportive place they need as they go through some of the most formative years of their life! It’s been inspiring to see individuals coming on board to lean into this local outreach, and we trust that together we can grow this meaningful ministry.

By September, New Hope had reinstated weekly outdoor volleyball and reopened the youth centre. Pictured below are some of the youth hanging out in masks after a movie night event.

We ask for your prayers as the church seeks a staff person to shepherd the outreach this year, and we thank all who have given to the outreach so far as we continue to build support and momentum.

 

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