Children pose with their finished poster at TNOYC's Valentine's Day "Have A Heart" party.

Children pose with their finished poster at TNOYC’s Valentine’s Day “Have A Heart” party.

This Thursday, the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office Youth Centre (TNOYC) hosted a Valentine’s Day party for the community youth to enjoy some time with friends and to raise awareness for the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS).

Students began arriving at TNOYC around 4:15pm and were led to one of the two stations where they were asked to write messages on paper heart cut-outs to the government, asking for officials to “have a heart” and treat First Nations children equitably. Snacks and drinks in hand, the teens set to work, decorating big red posters and coming up with creative ways to communicate their messages, writing “They’re not different from us, so why do we have to make them feel as if they are?”, and using statistics such as suicides and high school drop out rates.

Meanwhile, next door at the Homework Club children between the ages of one and five painted a giant heart-shaped poster. Youngsters then pasted heart shaped cut outs decorated with quotes and drawings, including “Don’t be sad, you can do everything.”

The idea of this event was to use “use Valentine’s Day to advocate [the rights of] First Nations people using arts and crafts,” says Orit Adose, an organizer of the event at TNOYC. She said she wanted to raise awareness through art so that the youth helping out could have a fun time while becoming educated about the lack of equitable treatment given to the First Nations children and adults.

TNO YC often holds events such as this: for Halloween 2012, the office hosted a Halloween party where teenagers came dressed in costumes to help decorate the Youth Centre. The event was an opportunity to relax with friends and enjoy the food and treats provided. Next year, TNO YC hopes to host another party to raise awareness because after all, a party to raise awareness is quite effective.