Andrew’s focus is on social and behavioural issues for youth between seven and 17 years of age. He works directly with young people, providing leadership and character development and leaving more engaged and hopeful students in his wake. One teacher described the approach as “unboring education.” Andrew also teaches, mentors and is a role model for the adults who will continue to work with the youth when he returns to his home.
Andrew finds young people—the strength and the future of their communities—resilient and courageous and funny. His role, he says, is to create an environment where they can learn about themselves, where they can reinforce and use their resiliency skills. He gives them the tools to thrive.
Educated in child and youth care, Andrew’s early work in care and custody changed his life. It made him acutely aware of the impact of his own behaviour—of how the kids were experiencing him. He learned “to use relationships as fodder for growth.”
One of Andrew’s proudest moments occurred at a drug education workshop he facilitated in a Cree community in James Bay. After lunch, there weren’t enough chairs and his first thought was that someone had removed them. In fact, 13 kids that had been absent from school
in the morning had made a point of returning for his drug education workshop.
“I love what I do,” Andrew said. “I get to put smiles on kids’ faces. Who wouldn’t get out of bed for that?”