Canora's Aboriginals in Motion

Taking AIM Through Fun and Physical Activities

In January the Town of Canora's Crossroads Project Reconnect introduced the Aboriginals in Motion (AIM) Project that offers after-school physical exercises and life skills development to predominantly Aboriginal school-age youth and adolescents. The participants join together to learn life skills and techniques in a host of after-school fun in Canora, Saskatchewan. 

Activities through the AIM project include horseback riding and equine care, swimming and golfing, recreational fishing, canoeing, kayaking and more. Activities in winter months involve snowshoeing the Trans Canada Trail followed by open fire-roasted foods.

Other activities may include youthful games like Hide and Seek and Mantracker (a game that resembles the Canadian reality television series), and are balanced with positive adult and peer role modeling, the benefits of exercise, and a lot of basics about nutrition and food preparation.

"We talk about causes and effects of bullying, and discuss issues relating to safety and wise choices." says Shawn Tratch, the youth liaison worker and coordinator of the AIM project. "Sometimes these age groups have a lot of questions about life, but they don't know how—or who—to verbalize them with. Many times we can help."

Tratch speaks of cultural competence and the melding of cultures. He describes this concept as a gentle, gracious acceptance of others who have come to Saskatchewan from other areas of the world...those with different cultures and mindsets or family acceptance he encourages throughout the delivery of all AIM activities.

This six month after-school project that began in early January, delivered twice per week, is attracting many. By mid-month, Tratch had signed up 12 participants from grades 1-4 and 18 from grades 5-12. He holds firm to his rule of one coordinator or volunteer for no more than six participants, so with a little help from volunteers, plans to involve at least 15 participants per week.

Overall results of the AIM project, according to Tratch, include the integration and acceptance of cultures, appropriate nutrition and exercise, positive peer and adult role modeling, bolstered self-esteem for participants, and the innate ability and wisdom to help these youth and adolescents to 'think before acting'.

Partners include the Sunrise Health Region (with a nutritionist and a community health nurse), the Town of Canora (for facilities and administration), the RCMP (for volunteering and positive adult role-modeling), the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (for snowshoeing and the Snow Shoe Festival), the Canora Junior Elementaray School and the Canora Composite School (for participants), the Ravenheart Farms (horses and equine instruction), and many volunteers.

The Community Initiatives Fund contributed $14,000 in support of these physical fitness and life skills activities. Canora is located 50 km (31 miles) north of Yorkton, Saskatchewan. 



Photo credit:  Shawn Tratch.

Posted in CIF News