OTTAWA – Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Hochelaga), New Democrat Skills Development critic, filed a petition today in the House of Commons, with more than 4,000 signatures. The petition calls for the restoration of the funding for the Wapikoni mobile to ensure its survival.

“This summer, the Wapikoni mobile’s budget was cut by $490,000, which represents the core of its operational budget,” said Boutin-Sweet. “If the Minister for Human Resources and Skills Development, Diane Finley, does not intervene immediately the survival of the organization is on the line and this would deprive many young Quebec Aboriginals from a project that gives them much hope.”

Boutin-Sweet requested that Finley reconsider her decision and restore the funding for this project that has succeeded in several communities since its inception. “We hope that the Minister will realize the importance of Wapikoni for young Aboriginals and announce an immediate reinstatement of this subsidy.”

The Minister’s decision does not take into account the fact that the project has been a success. “Proactive measures put forward by the Wapikoni Mobile stakeholders have a real and positive impact on the young people in my community,” added Jonathan Genest-Jourdain, (Manicouagan) an MP of Inuit origin and the NDP associate critic of Aboriginal Affairs. “These projects enable marginalized youth to learned things that they otherwise would not be in a position to access”.

NDP MP Romeo Saganash (Abitibi—James Bay—Nunavik—Eeyou) cannot understand the logic of the Minister’s decision. “For many years, this programme has been yielding excellent results and it has created an environment where participants gained pride and self-confidence. This programme is a success story and this government should support it.”

During the seven years it has existence, Wapikoni has enabled more than 2,000 young Aboriginals in 19 communities throughout Quebec to produce more than 600 films and musical productions. This creative work has been released in Europe, Asia and the Americas. The creators of Wapikoni have won 40 prizes in national and international festivals.