Thunder Bay·Audio

Life in Limbrick: Building community in a troubled Thunder Bay, Ont., neighbourhood

Despite the rest of Thunder Bay holding a negative view of the neighbourhood, the Limbrick area is a safe place to live, and one that's home to a lot of good people, said one 16-year-old resident.
Nevaeh Rae Matthews has lived in the Thunder Bay's Limbrick neighbourhood for about four years. (Logan Turner/CBC)
Nevaeh Rae Matthews is a 16-year-old high school student who has lived in the Limbrick/Vale neighbourhood for almost four years. 7:15

Despite the rest of Thunder Bay holding a negative view of the neighbourhood, the Limbrick area is a safe place to live, and one that's home to a lot of good people, said one 16-year-old resident.

Nevaeh Rae Matthews has been living in Limbrick for about four years. And while she's experienced challenging times there, overall, it's not as bad as people on the outside believe it is, she said.

"I think Limbrick is a safe place to live, despite all the negativity around here," Matthews said.

Matthews said a number of people and organizations are actively working to make life in the community better.

"Some of the programs are Good Food Box, Dilico, Youth Inclusion Program, Youth Move," she said. "There's so much more."

Making a difference

The Youth Inclusion Program, for example, has helped Matthews in many ways.

"It's helped me mentally," she said. "I was in a very depressive state before I came here."

"It's something that distracts me, and makes me pretty happy," Matthews said. "It's helped me physically, too. I've been more active. ... Even if I have a bad day, I can talk to them, or I can get my homework help from them, too."

"They have such a big energy ... and it just comes off of a person, you know?"

More people are coming to Limbrick community barbecues, as well, and residents in the area are simply talking more, Matthews said.

But things are different when she tells people from outside of the neighbourhood where she lives.

Judgmental attitudes

"It's usually judgmental," Matthews said. "They give these eyes, saying, like, 'that's bad. Why are you in Limbrick?'"

"But also, I feel like they think I belong there, since I am a native person, and Limbrick has more native people in it than white people."

Limbrick does have some issues, Matthews said. For example, a murder took place just outside of her residence, and there is drug activity in the area, even though that remains "pretty hidden."

Matthews has compassion for those involved in such activities.

"It could start, what I feel, is from their past, like residential schools," she said. "The abuse and torture from there, and the only way to cope is just drugs and alcohol, and they're drowning in it. So, I think that's where the illegal activity and the gangs come in."

But the efforts to make Limbrick a better place are helping, she said.

"I do personally think they're helping," Matthews said. "Some of the kids have abusive parents, or do the illegal activities. They come here, and get their love and support from these people."