Regina's All Nations Healin' Thru Artz (ANHTA) program has closed its doors due to a lack of funding.
The after school art program for youth aged 13 to 22 was federally funded through the Department of Indigenous Services Canada. Participants worked with local artists and learned life skills while preparing their work for public display every April.
ANHTA) also received funding from organizations at the local and provincial level, but Executive Director and founder Monica Fogel said it wasn't enough to cover operational costs.
Fogel, who founded the program more than 10 years ago, said the board decided to go into hiatus until it can find $120,600 in operational funding. She called on people who feel the program is worthwhile to pitch in.
"I just would encourage anybody to assist us with financial donations so we can open our doors again so that kids here in Regina can do some positive things," Fogel said. "With that, they take it to their families and it's just like a domino effect."
Fundraising efforts ongoing
ANHTA tried a Gofundme page and collects donations through their website, but hasn't been able to garner much support.
Fogel said there were 15 youth enrolled in the program when ANHTA closed. She estimated the program has helped hundreds.
Fogel said she wanted to tell participants she wasn't giving up the fight to keep ANHTA alive. "We are fighting to open the doors again, and to continue doing good in [youth's] lives," Fogel said.
Participants join calls to keep ANTHA alive
Past and present participants of the program joined Fogel's calls to keep the program going.
Paiytn Baxter participated in ANHTA between 2016 and 2017. She said the program has had a profound impact on her life.
"I thought it would be just a normal youth group but it's way different and adventurous because we get to be ourselves and release our inner talent," Baxter said. "I have not been a part of anything so amazing in my life, I enjoyed every last bit of being apart of ANHTA."
The Indigenous components of the program stood out to Baxter. She had never had a chance to speak with or be mentored by Elders before joining ANHTA. She also learned life skills.
"Before I went in there I was just a regular teenager, I'd usually go home and just lay in bed until night," Baxter said. "I learned how to properly be financially stable, they taught budgeting and whatnot, and how to type properly."
Baxter said learning the program was going on hiatus hurt — and not just for her.
"I know my cousin, once I told her about it, she was immediately interested in it," Baxter said. "Now I have to tell her it can't happen anymore; it hurts the future generation, because I don't want to see 13-year-olds making trouble outside of school."
The Department of Indigenous Services Canada has not responded to a request for comment on this story.