Hockey gear brings hope to First Nations kids - Oshawa sends truckload of equipment north
By Jillian Follert - Aug 30, 2007
OSHAWA -- It may look like bags of skates and jerseys, but to Grand Chief Stan Beardy, the hockey equipment overflowing from Oshawa MPP Jerry Ouellette's office is a lifesaver.
On Wednesday afternoon, Grand Chief Beardy, of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, met with the local MPP and representatives from the hockey community, to thank Oshawa for donating truckloads of gear to the youth in his far-flung northern communities.
"For you, it might not mean that much to collect some hockey equipment," Grand Chief Beardy said. "But the difference you're making is life and death."
Youth suicide is a horrifying trend in the 50 First Nation communities represented by the Grand Chief.
In the past year alone, 28 young people between the ages of 12 and 25 have taken their own lives.
But there is hope, and sports programs are proving to be part of the solution.
"Sports programs, like hockey, give the kids hope and direction," explained Mr. Ouellette.
Two years ago, the Grand Chief issued a plea for help at Queens Park, and the Oshawa MPP responded by setting up a donation program for hockey equipment.
The call went out to local hockey leagues and sports stores, and generated an overwhelming response. The first truckload made its way north last fall, and another is set to leave this week courtesy of Rockbrune Brothers Movers.
Organizations that helped collect donations include the Oshawa Lady Generals Hockey Association, Oshawa Minor Hockey Association, Crow Sports, Oshawa Church Hockey League and Neighbourhood Association Sports Committee.
Grand Chief Beardy said people living in southern Ontario often don't realize how difficult it is youth in his communities to do things others take for granted, like play hockey.
Thirty-six of his 50 communities are 'fly-in', which means residents must pay for a $1,000 flight to the nearest service centre, to purchase things like sports gear.
The only things sold in the individual communities, are basic staples stocked at the general stores.
"What you're doing is very touching for me," the Grand Chief said, wiping a tear from his eye. "My people have a lot of hopelessness... but you are making a difference."
For information on donating hockey or other sports equipment to this project, contact MPP Ouellette's office at 905-723-2411.
Ontario releases plan for Woodland Caribou Signature Site
The Ontario government is releasing the final management plan for the Woodland Caribou Signature Site in northwestern Ontario, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay said today.
“The plan protects the site’s unique features, including rare woodland caribou, while allowing for appropriate recreational uses as part of the economic strategy for the area,” Ramsay said.
The final management plan provides a vision and directions for the Woodland Caribou Signature Site area. Located in the Canadian Shield, north of Kenora, west of Red Lake and Ear Falls and south of Pikangikum, the site covers 537,000 hectares of boreal forest. It comprises the Eagle-Snowshoe Conservation Reserve and Woodland Caribou Forest Reserve, the Pipestone Bay-McIntosh Enhanced Management Area and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and its recommended additions.
The plan was developed over five years with input and advice from an advisory committee, a First Nations Working Group, regional and municipal representatives and the public. The plan protects the area and enhances the management of the ecological and economic health of the signature site area and its communities, now and for future generations.
The site has many outstanding cultural, recreational, and environmental features, including prehistoric artifacts and pictographs. With over 2,000 kilometres of canoe routes, an excellent sports fishery and many rare species of plants and animals, it is a popular destination for backcountry camping, wildlife viewing and remote tourism at high-quality operations. Other existing uses include trapping, rice harvesting and Aboriginal subsistence harvesting.
The Municipality of Red Lake was a significant contributor from the early stages of the planning process. “As a member of the advisory committee, I was pleased to have been involved in such an important initiative,” said Mayor Phil Vinet. “The municipality and surrounding region can now begin realizing the benefits of living next to this world-class adventure destination.”
The plan supports the development of an inter-provincial wilderness area with the Province of Manitoba. It also supports the Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Site initiative, a joint effort of the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba and four First Nation partners to have 42,000 square kilometres of land in eastern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The final plans are available on the Environmental Registry at http://ontario.ca/environmentalregistry, Registry Number PB02E6023. Copies are also available at ministry district offices in Kenora and Red Lake, at the Woodland Caribou Provincial Park office, or at www.OntarioParks.com.