Visitors to the North Central Family Centre (NCFC) in Regina walk up to a blue building, where kids laugh and play on the playground out front. In the shade of a large tree, others eat their snacks, tell stories and make lifelong memories together. Inside the doors, older kids and their parents mill about, chatting and planning out what programs to take while getting support from the staff. One of those staff members is Shyanne, who works here as an Employment Coordinator – but nearly 20 years ago, she started out on the other side. As a child, she would come here in need of guidance and strong adult role models.
Outgoing and enthusiastic, Shyanne has been part of the Centre for the last 18 years, ever since the first time she experienced the generosity of its founders. “I was 13 when I found out about it,” she recalls with a big smile. “My cousin came back to our house one day with doughnuts, and told us they got them from the nice lady named Sandy at the house nearby.” That was enough to inspire a visit the next day. “And Sandy greeted us, and gave us some mini doughnuts,” Shyanne laughs. (Through partnerships, NCFC is still able to offer food and snacks to the community daily.)
It was a welcome change for her and her family, who had never experienced such unconditional support and acceptance before. She and her five siblings began visiting the Centre regularly after school – which at the time had more of an adult focus. “But Sandy realized that kids wanted to come around there. So, in 2002, they incorporated as a non-profit, charitable organization that began to focus on families, youth, and children.”
Since then, the Centre has grown by leaps and bounds, offering literacy programs, after-school programs, and outreach for people with housing and food insecurity. Since age 15, when she got her first job there as an after-school program instructor, Shyanne has been a part of that direction. Now she has a unique perspective on how it has changed over time.
“We joined the marathon running team [at NCFC] and got to travel the world – Las Vegas, Jamaica, Hawaii – and once I turned 18, I became a youth care worker,” Shyanne explains, recalling the fun of those past adventures. “At 27 I went to get my Early Childhood Education degree, as I had kids of my own and wanted to move away from the youth care hours.” But she always had a goal of working with families and helping them thrive, returning the favour that the Centre had done for her when she was younger. After a year of working at a preschool and another seven months as a support worker, Shyanne opened her door one day to find Sandy – the same one who gave her the doughnuts all those years before. She invited Shyanne to come work at the Centre again, in a new role as an Employment Coordinator. The decision was an easy one.
In her new role, Shyanne gives back to the community every day, helping to break the cycles of poverty and unemployment that affect so many. She runs a ten-week paid program, providing training in employment and offering certificates that open doors with employers, and she networks to find work placements that spark interest and enthusiasm in each candidate.
Beyond that, the benefits are almost too many to list. “I can be a role model for the young girls, and my story is relatable, because I was where they are. The youth learn about work ethic, and how to build that confidence when someone believes in them.” Even her own children have become part of the NCFC family – Sandy even named Shyanne’s daughter – and they come there often. Despite the lives that it changes every day, at the core NCFC still remains a neighbourhood gathering place where everyone is welcome.
“Children can be themselves, express themselves. Coming here gives a kid an opportunity to be their age, feel the love and feel their value. To be a part of something.” Shyanne says this with an easy confidence, something she and her siblings gained through their years with the organization (her sister, currently in school to become an Addictions Counselor, actually sits on the board of NCFC, too).