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Aboriginal Leadership Program set for October launch

THUNDER BAY -- The Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program is on its way to being fully-funded this fall.
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TBT Engineering Limited president Rob Frenette announced Thursday they would be partnering with the Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program. (Nicole Dixon, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY -- The Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program is on its way to being fully-funded this fall.

This past spring, Leadership Thunder Bay and the Indian Friendship Centre, put a call out to the community to help support the next generation of Aboriginal youth leaders by becoming a coach, mentor or a champion sponsor.

The sponsors would help the Aboriginal Youth Leadership program reach its $60,000 goal, which would allow the program to continue in October 2016.

TBT Engineering Limited announced Thursday that the company is partnering with the program as a community champion, making a donation of $5,000 to the initiative.

“We have a strong history and a deep respect for the Aboriginal community,” said TBT Engineering Limited president Rob Frenette.

“Programs like this really can’t survive without some community level of funding and partnership, and we feel strongly that we are in a position to be able to assist the program.”

Frenette added that the program itself will develop future leaders, and that’s a benefit for the area that TBT Engineering calls home.

TBT Engineer’s goal down the road is to be able to hire these leaders.

“We recognize that Aboriginal partners should be incorporated into all aspects of project planning and development,” he said.

“Whether it’s community infrastructure, health care, education, mining, forestry all of the basic commercial activities that have made Northwestern Ontario strong and thrive in the past.”

Alongside the donation, TBT Engineering presented the Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program with 20 inspirational messages written by the employees on some birch bark.

The Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program has raised more than 50 per cent of its total fundraising goal and continues to look for companies and businesses to support the future of the north.

Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program co-chair John DeGiacomo said these donations help for the bigger picture.

“It will allow youth, up to 20 youth in fact, to get into the program,” DeGiacomo said. “For those youth that have financial barriers their will not be a financial barrier as they will be able to participate.”

DeGiacomo said in order to offer the program they needed a sustainable initiative that would allow youth with no financial means but have an interest to go in a program.

He added that this program could not happen without the community’s support.