The Indigenous Health Group at the University of Ottawa was recently selected to join the Makivik Corporation and the Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program (NYHDP) to create a key partnership to help Nunavik youth stay in school and develop positive life skills.
The NYHDP was created by Joé Juneau, former NHL player and honorary doctorate recipient from the University of Ottawa. Today, the program involves no fewer than 14 indigenous communities in Northern Quebec. Ongoing since 2008, this initiative offers free access to hockey for troubled youth and aims to fight against several challenges they face daily, such as obesity, crime and school drop-out rates. Coaches monitor their players’ performance closely, not only on the ice, but also in school.
“For me, being involved with these Nunavik youth is a way of giving back, of sharing and passing on what others have done for me all my life,” said Joé Juneau when he received his honorary doctorate at Convocation this past June.
As for the University’s researchers, a multidisciplinary group of professors and students from the Faculty of Health Sciences, their role certainly won’t be easy, since they’ve set themselves many goals for this partnership.
“We want to develop a rapport and trust among community partners and residents living in the Nunavik region,” explains Professor Michael A. Robidoux, a member of the Indigenous Health Group. “We also want to measure health and personal development and provide nutritional training through a series of academic workshops. We will engage in grant writing to secure funding to optimize nutrition and participation in physical activity, and that will assist in improving the health and well-being of youth.” He adds that the team is hoping to lower obesity rates, boost academic performance and generate enthusiasm among youth.
“We see the major potential this program has for increasing physical activity and improving academic performance among youth in this northern region of Quebec, and we believe our Indigenous Health Group can contribute to the overall success of the program,” said Professor Robidoux.
For more information on the NYHDP, please visit the website for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).