August 15, 2017
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has given its 2017 Humanitarian Award to Ontario North East teacher Lindsay Leonard for establishing a Fort Albany First Nations Youth Initiative focused on hockey.
The award recognizes ETFO members who have given outstanding service to supporting children in the local or global community.
As head coach of the Timmins Midget A Falcons female youth hockey team, Lindsay was determined to bring hockey to children living in northern communities. In 2014-2015, she and former team members ran a weekend hockey school for youth in Attawapiskat which was well-received by the community. Lindsay enlisted the support of the ETFO Ontario North East Teacher Local to launch a hockey equipment drive. Funds donated by the local, ETFO provincial office and other sponsors helped purchase much needed equipment for the Fort Albany elementary school for all sports.
In 2016, Lindsay’s team visited Fort Albany. Food and equipment donations for the school more than doubled from the previous year. Lindsay and her group set clear and focused targets for a continuing program, travelling to Fort Albany once a month. Her team continued to promote fitness and team play by planning skills sessions and games in the Fort Albany school gym and holding a hockey tournament with over 70 First Nations youth. Players from the Timmins girls’ hockey team have attended cultural workshops by community elders including former chief Ed Matatawabin.
This past winter, Lindsay took an additional 16 players from the North Bay AA Midget Ice Boltz Female Hockey team to Kashechewan. They brought over 30 bags of hockey equipment for local youth. Lindsay is continuing to expand the program to provide hockey opportunities and to work with local community leaders to meet other needs identified by them. Each session with youth puts a focus on healthy living, the Seven Grandfather Teachings and the importance of attending school.
“With remarkable resourcefulness and determination, Lindsay has provided the leadership to marshal community support to make a difference in First Nations communities,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “With input from local leaders, non-Aboriginal students have also gained educational opportunities to learn about First Nations’ culture.”
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.