New Huddle youth hub in Selkirk expands mental health, substance use, and wraparound supports for young people in Manitoba
Sequoia loves her town. But she doesn’t love some of the dangerous stuff her friends and classmates get into when they’re feeling bored, pressured, lost, or alone.
“Covid has really split us apart … we’re not really fully back to the way it’s supposed to be,” the teenager told a room of leaders, Elders, and peers at the opening of the new Huddle youth hub in Selkirk earlier this month. “I think the youth of Selkirk need activities and a safe environment to do them.”
With neighbours and schoolmates falling into unhealthy patterns, Sequoia said Huddle Selkirk couldn’t come at a better time for youth in the area. The Grade 12 student is aware there have been close calls with alcohol and drugs, and she knows some kids don’t have the support of a stable or loving home.
Sequoia is thrilled Huddle offers one answer to the complicated question of how to help make things better for her generation.
“Emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally, kids are affected on a day-to-day basis.”
“Emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally, kids are affected on a day-to-day basis. Huddle is here to give you support, guide you, give you friendship and a safe place to unwind if that’s all you need,” she said. “Here, we give (youth) great role models and great people just to understand and show them how it really is better.
“I’m so thankful we have a place like Huddle in our town to help guide our youth for future generations on a great path.”
With a tagline of Here for Youth, Manitoba’s six Huddle youth hubs welcome young people between 12 and 29 into an inclusive space for free, trauma-informed, culturally safe services. Manitoba’s Integrated Youth Services initiative is a project of the Province of Manitoba and Shared Health with United Way Winnipeg and other philanthropic partners.
The newest hub location is led by Peguis First Nation in partnership with the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, Lord Selkirk School Division, the START program, Youth Employment Services, and other community groups.
At Huddle Selkirk, every visitor is welcomed by a staff member to a bright and welcoming entry area filled with Indigenous artwork, motivational sayings, and snacks.
Young people can spend time in a relaxation room with comfy furniture, a game console, and a selection of crafts. The hub also includes counselling rooms and a primary care office for medical consultations.
Mental health clinicians, a youth substance use counsellor, 2SLGBTQ+ support, and peer leaders are all available at different times during the week for anyone seeking help.
There’s always something fun happening at Huddle Selkirk, too: recent free events, programs, and sessions include Supper with Huddle, a paint night, a movie screening, resume and relationship workshops, and a dance party.
"Seeing these programs gives all of us hope that there's hope for these young people."
Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson said Huddle is a shining example of how communities can meet young people where they’re at to take care of their needs with loving, wraparound care.
“With the pandemic, with all the issues around alcohol and many other issues, (like) mental health, (youth) do need support,” Hudson said. “That’s what we look forward to … being able to take that next step and get beyond the troubles that they experience, but also to give back to the community. (Huddle Selkirk) allows for that and accommodates that for our youth. They’re always in the forefront of our minds. Certainly, that is our future—and we need to protect that.”
Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse added young people who age out of care are often left without reliable supports to guide them. She’s encouraged the Huddle initiative is working hard to bridge that critical gap.
“How are we making their lives better? How are we making sure that they’re whole as a person?” Woodhouse said.
“Some of these kids were never given that (support) as children, unfortunately—but as young adults, seeing these programs gives all of us hope that there’s hope for these young people, that we’re nurturing them to be all the best that they can be for all of us.”
Hudson said he’s especially proud of the collaboration and commitments made by so many different groups, organizations, and government to continue to build a progressive and thoughtful community for all.
“That’s what Treaty was meant for,” he said, “is to work together and live in peace and harmony—and look after one another.”