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Yukon youth use culture and baseball to lead reconciliation

February 6, 2018

Yukon Child & Youth Advocate Office, in partnership with Jays Care Foundation, the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays, have partnered for the Yukon Rookie League Program.

Yukon Rookie League is directly linked to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls for Action, specifically for action on sports and reconciliation. Jays Care Foundation and the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office believe that children and youth need to create their own concepts of reconciliation to define their future. Indigenous youth advisors, Madison McKenna, Nigel Charlie, Jennifer Tuton and Neveah Webb, have led the development of the project by working with the Child Advocate Office and Jayscare Foundation over the last year.

The second series of Youth Leadership workshops is being hosted this week from February 7-9, 2018 at the Canada Games Centre – Coca Cola Fieldhouse. This three-day workshop will host up to forty youth between the ages of 11-13. Youth participants are coming from communities across Yukon. They will build leadership skills while integrating culture and baseball.

Over the last few months, the Child and Youth Advocate Office and Jays Care Foundation reached out to all Yukon elementary schools, as well as community organizations and First Nations governments to recruit youth leaders to attend this workshop.

“Children and youth can transform their communities”, states Child and Youth Advocate, Annette King. “Leadership, culture and sport builds resiliency in children to assist them in tackling the challenges they face in life”.

“Rookie League is a baseball program that teaches youth the life skills inherent to baseball—confidence, self-esteem, communication and resiliency. We are working towards a level playing field where all children and youth in the Yukon have access to the tools they need to thrive and succeed” states Lauren Simeson, Senior Manager, Programs, Jays Care Foundation.

The project has support from local community organizations who will assist with facilitation, including, BYTE-Empowering Youth, Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle, Softball Yukon, Boys and Girls Club, , Shakat Journal, and Khasha Reid from Champagne & Aishihik First Nations. In addition, First Nation governments have funded travel expenses for their youth travelling from communities.

Youth participants will learn to develop ball skills, how to implement games in their community, and how to engage participants ensuring peers take part in activities/play. They will also be immersed in learning about First Nations culture and history in Canada and Yukon, they will learn about United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and how to incorporate children’s rights into project activities, and they will experience belonging, mastery, independence and generosity (Circle of Courage Model).

“Sport provides an opportunity to connect to others you may not otherwise meet”, adds King.

Chief Wilton Littlechild, a TRC Commissioner, said in the 2015 closing ceremonies, “we are calling on you to link arms with us, that all Canadians Indigenous or not, young or old, first generation or tenth generation, that we work together to heal and secure a better future”.


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