On Friday, May 14, the Lac du Bonnet & District Charitable Foundation hosted a follow-up event to the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge Vital Conversation that took place via Zoom on March 12, 2021.

The purpose of this second conversation was to continue the dialogue between youth and community leaders regarding the needs of our community, the role that youth can play in meeting these needs, and how community leaders can help foster youth leadership in the growth and development of our community.

Twenty-eight participants took part in the Vital Conversation including 20 representatives from fifteen different community organizations and eight student leaders from Lac du Bonnet Senior School. The session was professionally facilitated by LDB Foundation Board Member, Laverne Wojciechowski.

In the first half of the meeting, the students presented their ideas while participants reflected on what this might mean to their organizations and how they could support the students’ initiatives. The second half was devoted to a whole group discussion where plans to move forward were fleshed out.

A key take-away of the meeting was the importance of developing effective lines of communication among organizations and youth.  Having students directly involved with community organizations was one solution.  For example, there is a youth seat available on town council, but it has not been filled for years. Gord Peters, Mayor of Lac du Bonnet, suggested that now would be a good time to do so.

Leslie Joyce, representing the Lac du Bonnet Lions, supported the students’ suggestion that the Talent Show be revived for Canada Day with more youth involvement.  Ms. Joyce went on to say that the Lions have been looking for opportunities to involve youth in some of their projects and inviting youth to help in the organization of the Talent Show would be a wonderful starting point.

The Fire and Water Festival was very open to the students’ suggestions of expanding the festival to include other art forms, greater marketing directed at young artists, and inviting student volunteers into the group.

The Food Bank, which has a history of student volunteers, would like to see those opportunities continue and expand, and the LDB Foundation is looking forward to the fall when their student organization, the LDBSS Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) committee, will start up again after a one-year hiatus due to Covid-19.

In terms of recreation, the students were quite interested in seeing greater infrastructure developed in our town.  They felt that current recreational programming for students between the ages of 12-18 was sufficient, but improvements to the Skate Park, the development of water front activities, and a splash pad would benefit children and youth in our community.

Opportunities for mentorship, career development, and youth employment was another theme presented by the students.  Ryan Karklin, representing Winnipeg River Community Futures will be looking into the possibility of a Job Fair for next year. RBC Representative, Linda Davidow, will be following up with resources and opportunities for youth that can be tapped into through the RBC Future Launch program.

The idea of an Instagram page to promote community initiatives and volunteer opportunities was widely supported by the students. Other ideas for promoting volunteer opportunities included the use of the Town’s electronic bulletin boards, postings in the school and a list of Service Organization being available to all.  As well, a Volunteer Registry is currently being looked at by the Community Development Committee.

The idea of moving forward with a task force was suggested as a next step for the fall.  Linda Davidow, representing RBC Royal Bank summed it up well by saying, “There is a need to “Connect” youth, education, community groups and community leaders to ensure Lac du Bonnet is making the most of the energy and willingness of our residents to grow, prosper and create a safe, healthy, vibrant and creative future for all.”

The Lac du Bonnet Foundation in collaboration with the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge and Community Foundations of Canada would like to thank all who participated in these Vital Conversations.  The interest and support generated by our community leaders, local organizations, and the students from LDBSS has been appreciated, and we hope good things will come from these conversations in the near future.