SIX NATIONS – The doors to the brand new Dajoh Youth and Elders Centre within Ohsweken opened with much anticipation to see the Tom Longboat stature and many new facilities including the gymnasium and functional kitchen on Friday, October 14. After a soft opening outside of the building with speakers such as Tom Longboat Statue
SIX NATIONS – The doors to the brand new Dajoh Youth and Elders Centre within Ohsweken opened with much anticipation to see the Tom Longboat stature and many new facilities including the gymnasium and functional kitchen on Friday, October 14.
After a soft opening outside of the building with speakers such as Tom Longboat Statue Sculptor David General and Bonnie Whitlow for the Alapinta Graffitti Project; over a hundred visitors were able to attend an assembly within the completed gymnasium.
General said he was very “proud” of his statue “Trial and Triumph” at the building.
“Congratulations to our community for this beautiful, beautiful building,” said General. “I can tell you that at previous councils, we only dreamed that this day would come. So, a good number of years ago the leadership in this community talked about a facility like this. And I gotta be honest that at that time they only talked about a separate elders building, an d a separate youth building. But I’m so glad to see that it’s manifested itself in one lone building.”
Although unable to provide sketches of what the mural would like prior to requesting it, Bonnie Whitlow explained that they “were very lucky” in how everything turned out.
“We brought thirty youth together, they were native and non-native youth and the idea was to create two murals that we’re calling the ‘sister murals,’” said Whitlow, explaining that the youth came from Six Nations and Brantford. “We thought ‘well maybe if we’re not getting along very well with Brantford as adults, maybe the youth could show us how to do that,’ and to provide role models for to see how we could build alliances and form partnerships.”
“The Alapinta muralists or the graffiti artists from Chile have [helped to] create a stunning mural on the back and I hope you all go and stand in front of it and take it all in. You’ll see what a high quality of craftsmanship is it, it really is incredible,” she said.
Elected Council Chief Ava Hill said she was “so happy to finally be inside” the new building.
“This is a beautiful, beautiful building,” said Hill, as she commended Michelle General for her design of the logo. “I had the opportunity to do some spray painting on the mural, and all of that work at the back was done in spray paint by the Mapuche Indians. It was a great exchange project and a great addition to the building.”
“I want to acknowledge former councillor Levi White,” she said. “When Levi was on council, he was one of the younger councillors and he said ‘we need a youth and elders centre, we need a youth and elders centre.’ So way back in the day he convinced council to set aside so much money a year from out dollars and that’s what we built up to get to this point.”
The gymnasium comes fully equipped with bleachers, basketball nets and a rock climbing wall as well.
After the “ceremonial ribbon cutting” scissors were passed around the crowd, two teams of young and old came together to play a friendly game of b-ball, and the purpose of the naming the building “the youth and elders centre” rang true.