About a dozen young people received free safety training last week, thanks to a recent initiative of the Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories.

During the week-long safety training program, youth learned first aid, fire arm safety, self defense, how to protect themselves against abuse, and safety in the home while babysitting or looking after elderly family members.

The association hopes to offer more training opportunities, free of charge, during future school breaks.

“There’s so many youth out there that have no structured activities to do during summer breaks, and if they want to become involved, everything costs money,” said Jennie Turner, the association’s executive director.

“A lot of families are stretched as it is with the high cost of living in Yellowknife, and it’s just an added thing for the parents to pay for, so this is something that the kids can do and it’s not going to cost them money and it’s their initiative,” she said.

The goal is to empower young people by giving them the skills and know-how to handle tough situations and be leaders in their homes.

“It gives them some self-worth,” said Rachel Tambour-Zoe, victim services coordinator at the association and a training program organizer.

“This also helps with their resume building, even to work at McDonalds, it looks good and they’ll get hired right away because they’ll have that out-of-school training.”

Turner said learning gun safety is particularly relevant to Indigenous youth in Yellowknife.

Parents may have guns for hunting in the home, but their children may not know how to safely handle or live around guns.

Alcohol already poses a danger to young people and with cannabis soon to be sold legally, the association is concerned that youth will be placed at greater risk of harm.

In Tambour-Zoe’s view, these risk factors make safety training all the more important.

The association would like to invite RCMP and bylaw officers to participate in future training programs to improve the sometimes strained relationships they have with young people.

Youth who completed the full week of training were rewarded with a certificate and a gift card.

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