Sean Lessard did not develop up on his house reserve of Montreal Lake Cree Nation, however because the group’s pupil success co-ordinator, he makes it there usually.

Montreal Lake is about 160 kilometres north of Saskatoon and like many distant Indigenous communities, psychological and bodily well being for the youth is a priority.

Lessard can hardly include his pleasure in speaking in regards to the group’s partnership with Spirit North, a non-profit group began by Olympian Beckie Scott, a gold medallist in cross-country snowboarding. It really works with Indigenous communities to advertise sports activities programming like cross-country snowboarding and canoeing.

“I simply thought it might be the proper match with Montreal Lake Cree Nation,” Lessard stated.

“The youth are hungry for programming and to be taught various things.”

Youngsters in Montreal Lake Cree Nation check out cross-country snowboarding for the primary time. (Submitted by Cameron Roe)

Lessard calls this system a “northern gentle” for the group.

“Psychological well being and wellness is a major, vital hole. So we have to give children alternatives to do various things,” Lessard stated.

“It’ll be one thing that is going to alter our trajectory. I do know that.”

Like many Indigenous communities inside driving distance of bigger city centres, academics usually commute and do not dwell within the communities. Lessard stated that makes it troublesome to foster profitable after-school packages for the youngsters who dwell there.

To make sure the success of the Spirit North packages, co-ordinators Cameron Roe and Nadya Crossman-Serb reside in the neighborhood for a yr to assist create sports activities programming.

Cameron Roe (left) and Nadya Crossman-Serb are main the programming in Montreal Lake Cree Nation. (Submitted by Cameron Roe)

The primary day they introduced out the cross-country skis, two eight-year-old kids wished to race — earlier than they even knew methods to use them.

“We’re actually excited to be right here for a long run and sort of develop extra longer-lasting relationships and to be extra ingrained [in the community],” Roe stated.

Crossman-Serb, who was a dash canoer with the Canadian nationwide group, hopes to make use of her experience within the spring and summer season months. 

As a Métis girl, she stated she’s thrilled to be in a group like Montreal Lake.

“It appears like I am giving again my data … it simply appears like the proper factor to do for me,” she stated.

The programming to date has been a shiny spot for the youngsters in the neighborhood, Sean Lessard says. (Submitted by Cameron Roe)

The plan for these two facilitators is to make their jobs out of date by coaching group members to run their very own programming. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has pressured the group to lock down and to shut entry factors at instances, making the programming difficult. 

However identical to the stretches of untapped cross-country trails on the First Nation, the hope is that the co-ordinators can assist youth discover their very own path to wellness by way of bodily exercise.

“It is really metaphorically a path — a cross-country path — that we do not know precisely the place we’re going, however we all know we have to begin,” Lessard stated. 

“Let’s begin small, however begin.”

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