Mushkegowuk Council

2022 Weehtamakaywin
Christmas Newsletter Article:

Youth Services

Our Mission:To provide a safe place for Omushkegowuk Youth to experience culture, recreation, and land-based opportunities with a holistic approach.

Our Vision: To amplify voices and support the success of Omushkegowuk Youth.


We hope everyone is doing well! The Mushkegowuk Youth Department crew were in full swing over the last six months. We were finally able to travel, host in-person events for youth and families, and now we are planning for our biggest events of the year! We are so proud and excited to share what we have been up to. Checkout our highlights below.

Summer 2022 Highlights

James Bay Classic Golf Tournament

We hosted our inaugural James Bay Classic Golf Tournament at Hollinger Golf Club in Timmins, ON. During the tournament we had Special Guest Don Burnstick who had all the golfers laughing during the prime rib dinner! The event was a great success. All proceeds from the event will be used for future MUSHYOUTH initiatives. Thank you to all our sponsors and all the participants who made this an event to remember. In conjunction with this tournament, we hosted golf lessons for MUSHYOUTH with Golf Pro, Mace Soroko. The lessons were over the course of a few weeks throughout the summer, with every session full and we even had a couple of parents participate.

Summer Student Program

We hired three summer students, Kylah, Bryan and Jhayden. They were a great addition to the #MUSHYOUTH team as we had our busiest summer yet. They brought tremendous energy and great work ethic to the department. We wish them all the best as they continue to pursue their educational goals. For the Summer of 2023, we plan to grow our summer student program to provide more employment opportunities for #MUSHYOUTH.

Mush Golden Glove Softball Tournament

We partnered with Taykwa Tagamou Nation and Ininew Friendship Centre and hosted the event in Cochrane. The tournament was comprised of Competitive and Recreational Divisions. We had a total of 12 teams registered – 6 comp teams & 6 rec teams. Throughout the tournament weekend, we had a total of 32 games, 140 participants, 100+ spectators and 10 MUSHYOUTH volunteers. Thank you to everyone involved who made this event a success. We hope to see you all next summer in Timmins!

3rd Annual Graduate Showcase

The graduate showcase is growing larger every year. We had a total of 133 Mushkegowuk graduates submit their information. We had graduates from preschool, grades 6/8, high school, college, and university! We love providing this space to proudly display this special milestone with you all.

Family Hollinger Mini Putt & Batting Cages

We enjoyed gathering and meeting families and seeing familiar faces! Everyone played a round of mini putt and some tried the skills at the batting cages. Others got soaked at the splash pad with water balloons and the reverse dunk tank! And of course, we capped it all off with a delicious BBQ supper! We had over 100 people show up!

Camp Chikepak

After two years, Camp Chikepak is back! The camp is for youth ages 9-14, and this year we had a total of 123 youth! This camp is in partnership with our good friends at CreeGeo. During camp we spent 14 days with #MUSHYOUTH. Youth had the opportunity to participate in a long list of exciting activities such as Glow forge, Rattle Making, Cree Language, Crafting Fishing, Filleting, Cooking, Gill Netting, Photography, Ribbon Skirts, Soapstone, Pow Wow Drumming, Minecraft, Archery, Nature Walks, Filmmaking, Christmas Themed Activities, Biking, Swimming, Kayaking, Tubing, Hip Hop Dancing, Elder’s Teachings just to list a few! The camp’s focus is to find the connections between Traditional Science and Western Science by providing a nice mix of Cree teachings and Science. It is also amazing to witness #MUSHYOUTH build new friendships and memories with youth from neighbouring communities. This is what the camp is all about!

Gathering of our People (GOOP)

our Regional Youth Coordinator Nadeen and summer student Jhayden spent time in Moose Factory this summer. They set up a community booth display and hosted carnival games for youth. Nadeen also assisted the Community Activator, Brenden Biedermann in hosting a youth baseball tournament. It was a great weekend of watching baseball, coaching, and cheering on our #MUSHYOUTH!

James Bay Paddlers Program

We had a six day canoe trip at Algonquin Park in August. The trip went well. The youth learned some valuable outdoor survival skills and received certification with ORCKA (Ontario Recreational Canoe & Kayaking Association). Our guide Michael Richardson, proprietor of Challenges Canada is a valuable resource person for the Youth Dept. He’s a certified instructor, knowledgeable guide and outdoor education program instructor. Our long-term goal for this program is to one day canoe down all our Mushkegowuk water tributaries!

Fall Highlights

James Bay Girls at Bat Retreat

The Mushyouth team went to Muskoka Woods on September 16-20, 2022. We worked with 55 youth from our Mushkegowuk communities. We have been collaborating with the Jays Care Foundation since the inception of the James Bay Girls at Bat program in 2017. The James Bay Girls at Bat is defined by the belief that young people have the potential to transform their communities. Being a part of Girls at Bat means you care about wanting to help create a positive future for yourself and others in the community, while earning yourself many inspiring opportunities. Throughout the program Elders, Mentors, Master Facilitators, and fellow Youth Champions work to support every Youth Champion to harness their own power as a leader and a change-maker through nurturing the 5 C’s – also known as the 5 Anchoring Skills: CARE, COURAGE, CONNECTION, CREATIVITY, COMMITMENT. The retreat was a tremendous success, and we look forward to the next one!

3rd Annual School Survival Kits

In partnership with Omushkego Education, we created 100 kits for MUSHYOUTH students across Ontario and as far as Utah, USA! We provided essential items such as school supplies, cold & flu kits, hygiene items, study kits, toques & mitts, Tim Hortons/Subway gift cards, and more. We love supporting our students who are working hard towards their educational aspirations. We wish them a successful school year!

Halloween 2022

We hosted our always popular virtual Halloween activities and had over 200 participants from all over the region! We had a spooky bake-off, Halloween dance challenge, yard & window decorating and costume contest. It is always fun to see everyone’s creativity, our favourite ghouls, goblins, superheroes, and princesses this time of the year!

National Day of Truth And Reconciliation

In partnership with the Timmins Majors “AAA” hockey club, we hosted an opening ceremony to honor the children who never made it home and the survivors of residential schools. A big meegwetch to Angela Shisheesh, Chief Mervin Cheechoo, Mayor Kristen Murray, and Grand Chief Allison Linklater for speaking to the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. Also, thank you to Marilyn Mcleod who sang the National Anthem in English and Cree! We cannot forget about the Thunder Creek Singers and traditional dancers who took over center ice! This event was made extra special as well because we had 10 indigenous youth hockey players playing at this game! It’s great to see our #mushyouth competing at such a high level of hockey. They make us proud!

Timmins Christmas Parade

This year's Christmas Parade theme was Musical Madness. We are happy to say our float captured the theme. The youth participation made the float a success and the children enjoyed all the festive blow-up costumes. During the preparation of the float, we enlisted high school volunteers to help them attain volunteer hours they need to graduate high school. We invited the younger children and families to sit on the float to help us spread the Christmas Joy! We also had a young Elvis on the float rocking out! And we won the Best Small Entry for the second year in a row! Whoo hoo!

Congratulations Emma Morrison Miss World Canada 2022

On behalf of the Mushkegowuk Council Youth Department, we would like to congratulate Emma Morrison on being crowned Miss World Canada 2022! Emma is a #MUSHYOUTH from Chapleau Cree First Nation and she is the first Indigenous woman to hold this title. Emma also won the “Beauty with a Purpose Award” for her humanitarian project, Reconnecting Through Ribbon Skirts. We are all so proud of you! Emma will be a keynote speaker at our upcoming Mushkegowuk Council Youth Gathering in January 2023. We look forward to working with you and supporting you on your journey. Good luck and best wishes at the 2023 Miss World Festival!

Art of Healing Program Highlights:

The Art of Healing activities hosted by Erika Johnson has gone into a slightly quieter state while she is on Education leave to complete her thesis for her Art Therapy program into the new year. She is excited to complete this chapter and work towards her full registration within the school of psychotherapy in Ontario and begin taking on more individualized work and deeper trauma informed projects to further her work and offerings within the Mushkegowuk communities.

A big highlight is the Garden Series project that kicked off its second year this past summer with 80 families receiving Garden Series kits! Alongside the tutorial videos, these households got to try their hand at their own gardens outside and follow along with the video series. While there are still some learning curves throughout the process, the next phase of this series is to get growing in a community size scale with some heartier plants for the north!

We are excited to see what the new year has to offer! Be prepared to see the new themes in our art-based programming that is coming your way, now that we can come your way up the coast again. Ideas and themes for new art projects and workshops are always welcome as well so feel free to make recommendations of what you’d like to see to

In Closing

We would like to thank all our community partners for their continued support. Without you, it would not be possible. To our MUSHYOUTH, thank you for showing up to our activities and we look forward to seeing you at the next one! On behalf of the Mushkegowuk Youth Department, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Upcoming events:

  • January 7-8, 2023 – Moose Cree First Nation - Devin Buffalo’s Waniska Athletics Goalie Camp
  • January 20-22, 2023 – Timmins, ON – Mushkegowuk Council Youth Gathering (MUSHYOUTH Ages 14-18)
  • February 17-19, 2023 – Timmins, ON – Mushkegowuk Cup Hockey Tournament

Youth People

Christina Sutherland
Program Assistant

Erika Johnson
Art Therapist

Nadeen Carey
Regional Youth Coordinator

Rex Knapaysweet
Director of Youth Services

Stewart McLeod
Regional Recreation Coordinator

Youth Team
Department Staff

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