W.I.N.K.S. Centre a “home-away-from-home” for students in Sioux Lookout
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
What many refer to as ‘the old Johnny’s’ is a centre for students in Sioux Lookout that provides amenities and programming throughout the school year.
Located at 57 King Street, the W.I.N.K.S Centre is seen as a place of comfort and fun for students who are attending school in Sioux Lookout while being away from their home communities.
“Windigo First Nations Council, Independent First Nations Alliance (IFNA), Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC), Keewaytinook Okimakanak, and Shibogama First Nations Council have collaborated to create the W.I.N.K.S. Inter-Agency Active Wellness Program, funded by Choose Life, in Sioux Lookout for the benefit of high school students in the community. Being an inter-agency program means that all high school students have the opportunity to meet students from other communities and broaden their support system as they participate in indoor activities and land-based programming,” said Rachel Butler, Active Wellness Lead.
“Our main centre has lots of amenities that students come to use after school and on weekends, including a computer lab, an art room, an entertainment room, a fitness room, music equipment, ping-pong and pool tables, a basketball net, a kitchen in which daily hot meals are offered, homework support, and more. We also offer land-based programming such as bonfires, hunting, fishing, snaring, skidooing, quading, boating, camping, snowshoeing, and weekend retreats,” she added.
Students have the opportunity to participate in the regular programming or use the W.I.N.K.S Centre facilities throughout the week. Butler shared that one of the main goals is to keep students on the path to graduation while providing them with a support system.
“At the beginning of each month, we release a calendar of events explaining what organized activity is happening and when. Our centre is also open Monday to Friday after school until 8:30 p.m., Saturdays from 3 until 8 p.m., and Sundays from 1 until 5 p.m. for students to come and go at their leisure. Our aim is to offer a ‘home-away-from-home’ support system while our students have left their communities to attend high school in Sioux Lookout. We work to see all students through to graduation, teach them life skills along the way, and help keep them connected with the land throughout their time away from home,” she said.
“Currently, we have a hockey scrimmage and music night every Monday, game nights on Tuesdays, broomball every Wednesday and Saturday, land-based activities on Thursdays, and tournament nights on Fridays. Next weekend we have a group going on a hunting and fishing trip from Friday to Monday.”
Anyone with questions about W.I.N.K.S. can contact Butler at 738-5812, or [email protected].
Events and programming can also be seen on their Facebook page Winks Youth Program.