February 9, 2011 (Ottawa ON) â€“ On January 29th, 2011 Aboriginal youth in Gull Bay happily accepted $18,000 worth of Junior Hockey Equipment generously donated by Nick Vescio of Big Hearts 4 Fresh Starts.
The donation was the result of a chance meeting between GEN7 Messenger Mike Auksi and Nick Vescio of Big Hearts 4 Fresh Starts.
Since November, 28-year-old Mike Auksi has been devoting his free time by promoting healthy lifestyles through sport, as a GEN7 Messenger at Motivate Canada.
â€śMy goal is simply to pass along the pride I have in my Ojibway-Estonian cultures and the joy I find in life through sport,â€ť he said.
GEN7 Messengers, like Auksi, are Aboriginal athletes, peer leaders and mentors that engage, connect, educate and lead Aboriginal youth in a process of self-discovery. They visit Aboriginal communities between three and six times a year, to engage youth through empowerment and sport activities, and to foster community development through lessons in leadership and teambuilding.
Auksiâ€™s passion has always been hockey, and his experience as a GEN7 Messenger has led him to meet and inspire youth, and it has also helped to encourage others to make sport an important part of their lives.
His meeting with Nick Vescio resulted in a sizable donation of 10 bags filled with junior hockey equipment (youth skates, sticks, helmets, and hockey pants) that were to be sent to Gull Bay First Nation, a community about 2 hours north of Thunder Bay.
The hockey equipment arrived in Thunder Bay on January 28th in time for Auksiâ€™s weekend visit. Auksi and GEN7 Messenger Leah Salt, who works as a teacher at the Gull Bay School, brought the cargo to Gull Bay on Saturday January 29th, 2011. Miles Nowegejick, the current Chief of Gull Bay, assisted in paying shipping costs for the equipment.
Auksi has visited Gull Bay three times since the beginning of December and has worked with the youth to get their communityâ€™s ice rink cleaned up, flooded and ready to be skated on. While some of the youth already owned ice skates, several of them had never laced up in a pair before. The Thunder Bay Metis Council has offered to help out by collecting used junior skates from members of the community that will also be donated to the youth in Gull Bay.
Auksi hopes that his contribution and those of Vescio and the Thunder Bay Metis Council will ensure that all youth who want to play hockey will have the opportunity to do so.
Motivate Canada is a charitable organization which specializes in improving the lives of young people by fostering civic engagement, social entrepreneurship, social inclusion and leadership among youth.
Communications and Fund Development Manager Andrea@motivatecanada.ca