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Helping Improve Quality Of Life For Aboriginal Youth

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Helping Improve Quality Of Life For Aboriginal Youth

McGuinty Government And Right To Play Launch Hockey Program

Ministry of Indigenous Affairs

This winter, Aboriginal children and youth in Moose Cree and Sandy Lake First Nations will be hitting the ice to receive hockey lessons and compete in hockey games.

Promoting Life-skills for Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) is a pilot program developed by Right To Play in partnership with the Province and other organizations. The program helps Aboriginal youth improve their health, self-esteem and leadership skills through participation in sport and play activities.

The winter hockey camps are the latest addition to the PLAY program. They build on the success of the summer program, which has already helped more than 300 Aboriginal children and youth learn valuable life-skills and improve their health.

Based on Right To Play programming in more than 20 countries around the world, PLAY uses sport and play to support Aboriginal youth and help them develop valuable life skills and improve their health. A key component of the program is building leadership through volunteer work and relationship building with other members of the community.

This program also supports the government's Open Ontario plan to help strengthen Northern and Aboriginal communities and help more youth reach their full potential.

Quick Facts

  • The Ontario government has committed to providing about $490,000 over four years to support PLAY.
  • PLAY partners include: Merck Canada, RBC Foundation, Larry and Judy Tanenbaum Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Sport Canada, the University of Ottawa School of Human Kinetics, Motivate Canada, Hydro One and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
  • Right To Play has 350 Athlete Ambassadors including its newest, Luke Schenn from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • The PLAY program was introduced in Moose Cree and Sandy Lake First Nations in July 2010. Both communities report increased participation among youth and fewer incidents of vandalism and suicide since the program started.
  • More than half of First Nations children are overweight or obese and rates of diabetes among Aboriginal people are three to five times higher than those of the general Canadian population.

Background Information

Additional Resources


“Promoting Life-skills for Aboriginal Youth is making a positive impact in the lives of young people in these First Nations communities, helping them improve their health and gain the life skills they need to succeed. We are very fortunate to be working with Right To Play and our other partners to deliver this innovative program.”

Chris Bentley

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs

“We are very inspired by the success of this program so far. The Promoting Life-skills for Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program has already engaged nearly 500 First Nations youth thanks to the leadership of the communities where we are working. We are seeing a generation of young leaders and active community members develop, and we are excited to be able to bring a sport as Canadian as hockey into the fold. We are grateful to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Larry and Judy Tanenbaum Foundation, Merck Canada, RBC Foundation and all of our other partners for their involvement in this program, and we move forward together confident in the sustainability of PLAY and its positive impact on First Nations children, youth and their communities.”

Johann Olav Koss

President and CEO, Right to Play

Media Contacts



Government Health and Wellness Aboriginal People