A Winter Throwback to Warm the Heart

Thunderwolves athletes give back
Silver Schaefer, Media and Communications Assistant, Orillia Athletics and Wellness


Pictured: Kareem, a local Lakehead University Orillia Soccer Player, learning and assisting two youth from the Bearskin Lake First Nations community with a planned activity.

Last Spring, Lakehead varsity athletes and staff travelled to Bearskin Lake First Nation as part of Reach Up! and the Lakehead University Aboriginal Mentorship Program (AMP). An Oji-Cree First Nation reserve, Bearskin Lake is located 425 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout. The volunteers engaged with local youth and provided educational support in various areas of learning. The program consisted of 50 youth of all ages participating in various physical activities, such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, and floor hockey, as well as educational programs, such as Indigenous Cartography and Ozobots (miniature robots that can follow lines or roam freely and detect colours), run by the Aboriginal Mentorship Program.


After its creation in 2013, Lakehead University AMP mentors have been able to connect with Indigenous students in Northwestern Ontario to foster a passion for lifelong learning. The mentorship program is an investment in Indigenous youth built on trustful partnerships to inspire and facilitate educational opportunities, employment opportunities, and the building of capacity and sustainability within northern communities.

Kareem Poonah, a Lakehead Orillia Indoor Varsity Soccer player said of the experience:

“This opportunity is one that was extraordinary in so many different ways […] being there as a leader for the youth was great. Not only did we get to interact with them through extracurricular activities but we also got to go into the classroom and participate in the class activities with the youth. I loved being able to interact with the youth, whether it was in the classroom providing them with learning activities and games or being outside with them swimming in the lake. I’d say it was a very rewarding trip as we were also able to learn so much from their community. The smiles that we were able to bring to the kids faces by playing with them and just being there was more than enough to make me appreciate the chance to go. It was a great opportunity and I hope that other athletes will be able to receive this same opportunity that I have.”

Thank you to all the Thunderwolves who participated in this experience.