Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Southern Saskatchewan First Nation Community Rink is Devastated by Fire

A Southern Saskatchewan First Nation Community Rink is Devastated by Fire
Media Release - FSIN Communications Unit

(Saskatoon, SK) The Ochapowace First Nation suffered a devastating loss today when the Fred Bear Communiplex was completely destroyed by fire.

The Fred Bear Communiplex was built in 1985.  It was a fully functional rink with an artificial ice plant, as well as, a band hall attached to it.  The Fred Bear Communiplex was used as a community centre hosting many events such as community feasts, family functions, bingos, and funerals. 

“The Fred Bear Communiplex served as a focal point for not only the citizens of the Ochapowace First Nation but surrounding First Nations as well,” says FSIN Chief Guy Lonechild. “It’s a devastating loss for all these communities, especially for their talented, aspiring young hockey players who will no longer have ready access to a major sporting facility close to home.”

The First Nation developed the Ochapowace Minor Hockey Program, with players participating from the surrounding First Nations of Kahkewistahaw, Cowessess, Sakimay and White Bear. The Fred Bear Communiplex was also the host rink for the Ochapowace Senior Hockey Team, which participates in the Triangle Hockey League in southern Saskatchewan.

“The rink was also used for Hockey Development Schools for the young people, hockey tournaments as well as referee and coaching clinics for the area First Nations,” says FSIN Vice Chief Morley Watson.  “Our hearts go out to the people of the Ochapowace First Nation.  Hockey is quite popular in the community and surrounding areas. The loss of the rink will be felt by all.”

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Oskana Cup News Release

Regina, SK – The sixth annual Oskana Minor Hockey Development Inc. (OMHDI) Oskana Cup will be held on April 29, 30, and May 1 in Regina at the newly opened Co-operators Centre, home of the University of Regina Cougars (CIAU) hockey teams. The format will include the usual men's recreation, women, masters (35+) and the new addition will be the bantam division. “Adding the bantam division changes the focus a bit to reflect what the long-term vision of OMHDI, that is to focus on development of young aboriginal hockey players” said Milton Tootoosis, the founder and former president of OMHDI. “We have dealt with adversities throughout the years and we successfully implemented the Oskay Soniskwatahikewin (OS) Fund to benefit more youth and help our upcoming youth in hockey” he added. The board had in their five year plan a strategy to include minor divisions so a commitment was made to add the bantam division for 2011. Many who follow the hockey world know that if your kid is not identified and protected by the time he is in the bantam division, his chances of making it to the pro ranks drops significantly. In response, the OMHDI will showcase some of western Canada's top bantams and create an event for talented and committed bantams as another opportunity to hone their skills. Someday the OMHDI Oskana Cup will be an elite bantam showcase for top aboriginal players, some who may be unavailable for their provincial teams or AA teams for different reasons.

“With Oskana Cup being the last major aboriginal hockey tournament in Western Canada we anticipate a good response for entries for all divisions” added Shelley Lavallee, the new and current president of OMHDI. “We are especially excited about our successes in the past five years and being loss and injury free. We are preparing for the next five years and our first decade as an organization affiliated with one of our native hockey greats Reggie 'The Rifle' Leach” she said. Leach is to be invited once again to visit the community and make some presentations.
Milton Tootoosis at (306) 341-1876 E;
Shelley Lavallee at (306) 581-5903 E:

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Gripping comics to help Aboriginal Youth

Gripping comics to help Aboriginal Youth
written by: Sharon Thomas
for Indigenous Times Newspaper - March 2011
In 2004, Sean Muir took the first steps to building on a classic form of literature, comic books, to convey his messages. His idea consisted of clean, clear-cut stories regarding health and social issues affecting the Aboriginal youth of today.

Muir believes that education to the people cannot be accomplished by overwhelming them with information from their health professionals, much less take in regular visits to their doctor. "Why not teach them something subtlety with stories. Plus, if youth and adults enjoy the medium that we’re using, we’re more likely to get multiple exposures, which is a greater chance of changing behavior."

With this thinking, Muir began sending out emails, harassing health authorities about the small-scale of money that was spent on nutrition education, while Coke and McDonalds were spending billions of dollars a year on advertising. A couple of the authorities suggested that he apply for funding so that they could help him. So with a health message to impart, Muir pursued funding.

His logic was a simple one, but one that appealed to his target audience that he wanted to reach, the youth. Muir believes that young people respond to visual mediums as opposed to words on a pamphlet or a brochure. He recalls a childhood memory. "I remember reading comic books with a friend as a kid. He was reading two to three books to my one, and I was a good reader. So I asked him, ‘How do you read so fast?’ He said, ‘ I don’t, I just look at the pictures and I get the gist of what’s going on.’ I remember that kid in school. He struggled when reading aloud in class." With this mind, Muir bid a project to create literacy on health issues with youth through comic books. Doubtful that he could get funding, Muir applied for it anyway. Much to his surprise, the approval came through. The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority was their first client.

The first comic, titled "Darkness Calls" was released on Aboriginal Day 2006. It is a suicide prevention story that went on to sell over 33,000 copies across Canada and the U.S. Other comics include topics such as gang awareness, diabetes awareness, gambling awareness, mental health and various others. To date, seven comic books have been written, with a few more in production. In total, slightly over 300,000 comics have been printed. Animated shorts based on the comic books are next.

With hopes that the Healthy Aboriginal Network will be the place for Aboriginal people to turn to when seeking health content, Muir wishes to instill behavior change, or at least provide the recognition that youth have the capacity to become healthier and more productive when given the opportunity.

The Healthy Aboriginal Network is a Non-Profit in which Sean Muir is the founder and Executive Director. For more information on the comic books and their availability, visit:

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Native Model Studio to Showcase at Awareness Event

Native Model Studio to Showcase at Awareness Event
written by: Armand LaPlante
for Indigenous Times Newspaper - March 2011

On Saturday March 26th, Oskayak High School will be host to a night of entertaining and empowering speaking and performances in Native culture and fashion. Organized by the University of Saskatchewan’s Native Studies Class (271), the event entitled "Dreams for a Better Future: Culture & Fashion for a Cause" focuses on creating awareness for Aboriginal women’s issues.

"This is a class project and our goal was to create awareness for issues that Aboriginal women face including violence, sexism and overall hardships." states Dabney Warren, a student and co-coordinator of the event. Special guest speakers leading the way will be Dr. Priscilla Settee, Verna St. Denis and Dr. Alex Wilson who will be speaking on these issues.

The night will also include Aboriginal models from the Saskatoon area who have been recruited by the Native Model Studio (Winnipeg, MB) wearing apparel from Sask Native fashion designers Disa Tootoosis, Tracey George Heese, Chantel Dustyhorn, Misty Naytowhow as well as Timothy Lewis, the owner of Tansi Clothing. Disa’s work has been featured in Indigenous Times News in previous editions.

Lisa Muswagon, head of the Native Model Studio, finds that giving Aboriginal women the chance to model and be a part of the industry gives them a self esteem boost and exposes them to new horizons. "This is a great chance to bring everyone together and build each other up. We want to help girls and women with their self esteem; to build their self confidence so they can go on to create positive relationships and be independent." States Lisa, "This is also a great opportunity to work together, not only with the models but with the designers and performers as well."

There will be First Nations dancing performed by Buffalo Boy Productions, a Saskatoon-based First Nations dance troop who perform a whole set that includes Pow wow dancing and specialty dances like the Horse, Eagle and Buffalo dances. Music entertainment will be performed by widely known artist and Saskatoon’s own Eekwol as well as Violet Naytowhow of Prince Albert. Tyson Anderson Photography will appear as the official photographer at the fashion show; Tyson is a young, talented Aboriginal photographer from Manitoba.

"Everybody, First Nations and non-First Nations alike are welcome to get an educational understanding of Aboriginal women’s issues as well as to come take a look at what First Nations designers and performers have to offer." states Dabney.

The doors for the event open at 6pm at Oskayak High School on Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon. More info as well as contacts can be reached at the facebook event page: "Dreams for a Better Future: Culture & Fashion for a Cause". •