Forty years ago this December, Big Brothers started in the Yukon as a volunteer-run organization to help boys, who were needing a male role model in their lives, to be matched with a caring, safe and responsible adult. The organization was funded by local service clubs and became a registered charity in 1985. In 1991, Big Brothers of Yukon amalgamated with Big Sisters of Yukon.
“I think I was six years old when I got matched with [my Big Brother] Rick,” said Jaret Slipp, executive director of YuKonstruct, who was a Little Brother in Ontario. “Rick was a fun guy and took me to baseball and football games. We went to the pool and parks and did a variety of fun stuff. He had a Camaro that I loved driving around in! It was fate; we were a perfect match.”
The impact of Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs is far-reaching and does have a ripple effect in families, schools and communities. In fact, research has found that for every dollar invested in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs, there is an $18 social return on investment.
“I really didn’t have consistent male figures in my life that were focused on me,” said Slipp. “My mother had some relationships after her divorce, but of course a lot of attention was between them. Rick was 100 per cent focused on me, and having fun and sharing time together. As a young boy, trying to make sense of things, that undivided attention was a huge change and a very positive one for me.”
As part of a Canada-wide federation, with 108 agencies currently, BBBSY has evolved and changed over the years and now has two staff supporting 20–30 matches annually. The agency has a satellite office in Dawson City, in partnership with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, and has also run a program in Watson Lake. Volunteers interested in becoming mentors—or Bigs—go through a rigorous application and interview process, including a police check to ensure they are committed to being a positive role model in a mentee’s—or Littles’—life.
Aside from the traditional community mentoring program where Bigs and Littles spend two to three hours a week doing something they both enjoy in the community, we also have an In-School mentoring program that allows Bigs to spend time with their Littles for one hour a week on school property. Additionally, we have two group mentoring programs, Go Girls! and Game On!, which also take place in the school environment.
We have Bigs from all walks of life, and there is no perfect mentor. All that matters is that you are a caring adult who understands the impact of spending time with a child or youth.
“Rick was a good man, with ambition and very positive values,” said Slipp. “I know that a lot of who I am and my positive path in life is due to the lessons, values and confidence I gained from Rick.”
If you are thinking about volunteering, please send an inquiry through the agency’s website, yukon.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca or call 867-668-7911 for more information. Also, watch for details on Curl for Kids’ Sake, happening November 18, 2018.