KidSport opens Chapter on the James Smith Cree Nation
- NC Raine | October 13, 2023
The first KidSport chapter located on a First Nation has opened on the James Smith Cree Nation (JSCN) − and the community couldn’t be happier.
“We already have 22 young people registered for hockey, many of whom are playing for the first time,” said Dinah Marion, JSCN KidSport coordinator and community member. “And we’re hiring a sports and rec coordinator, which we haven’t had for five years.”
Opening the chapter is something everyone involved is excited about.
“After the big tragedy in our community, we thought sport would be a good way to keep the kids busy,” said Marion.
KidSport is a children’s charity that provides grants to help cover the costs of sports enrolment for kids aged 5 to 18. They have over 40 local chapters but have never operated one on-reserve until now.
“We saw that there were a lot of children who were being helped out through our provincial fund at James Smith Cree Nation so, we thought it would be a great place to open our first national chapter,” said Daphne Van Den Hurk, KidSport community consultant.
Now, not only can families apply and get advice on funding but they can receive information on other programs, opportunities, or sports they might not know about without having to leave the reserve.
“I think it’s going to have a great impact in the community,” said Van Den Hurk. “Our goal is always to get more children involved in sports, get them out there and active, give them a healthy lifestyle, and to become potentially good leaders in their community.”
The new chapter received $25,000 in funding from Sport Canada, which helps cover things like startup fees and operating grants, said Van Den Hurk. The James Smith chapter will also receive $1,500 annually for allocations funding and $500 annually for operating grants.
“A lot of our parents come from low-income families, so it’s a struggle sometimes to even think of being involved in sports,” said Marion.
“We can now cover costs, even transportation and travel costs for parents,” she said. “We can give them that extra support and help they need.”
Last September, James Smith made international headlines after a mass murder took place on the reserve followed by a manhunt for the suspect.
For months following the tragedy people, including the youth, were left afraid and scared to leave their homes, and too fearful to get involved in the community.
“I think it’s going to help the kids in a big way,” said Marion. “It’s going to give them something to look forward to. They’re going to be able to get out there again.”
She believes the presence of KidSport will help further strengthen and rebuild their nation one family at a time.
“It was so hard to get programming going again after the tragedy,” said Marion. “Things are starting to pick up again, so this is going to be a really good thing for the community.”
Marion said other First Nations are interested in starting their own chapters and want to know how to do it.
Van Den Hurk said KidSport has no immediate arrangements to open a new chapter in other communities in Saskatchewan, but they are open and hoping to further expand into the province’s First Nations.
KidSport Saskatchewan has been in operation for 28 years, in which time they’ve raised over $13 million for kids in sports.