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Événements 28 March 2024

New BLEU BLANC BOUGE initiative for Indigenous youth

New BLEU BLANC BOUGE initiative for Indigenous youth

The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation announced on Thursday a brand-new five-year partnership with CN, to implement the sports initiation component of its BLEU BLANC BOUGE program in various Indigenous communities across Quebec.  

CN will serve as the presenting donor for this new Foundation initiative, which aims to make a positive impact on the health of Indigenous youth. Spread over five years until the end of the 2027-28 season, the $750,000 investment will provide hundreds of First Nations youth in Quebec with the opportunity to learn various disciplines such as skating, ice hockey, and ball hockey. By joining forces to offer programs promoting healthy and active lifestyles to Indigenous youth, the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation and CN aspire to increase levels of physical activity and foster well-being within Indigenous communities. 

“Persistent obstacles to sports access, especially in numerous Indigenous communities, exacerbate health disparities among First Nations and Inuit youth. This underscores the urgency of implementing initiatives that not only promote physical activity among these children, but that are also inclusive and respectful of their culture and traditions. Through this program, and thanks to the generosity and commitment of CN, the Foundation can play a pivotal role in bridging these gaps. CN’s support propels the Foundation’s desire to provide children in Indigenous communities with opportunities to engage in physical activity and develop new skills, both on and off the ice,” emphasized Geneviève Paquette, general manager of the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation. 


“CN is proud to contribute to the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program for Indigenous youth. We firmly believe in the importance of making physical activity and the adoption of healthy lifestyles accessible to as many young people as possible. The pilot project conducted in collaboration with the Anishnabe Nation of Lac Simon has demonstrated the impact such initiatives have on youth, on their self-esteem and perseverance. It is through meaningful partnerships like this one with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation, that CN succeeds in making a real difference in the community, and we are very grateful for that,” added Olivier Chouc, CN’s senior vice-president and chief legal officer. 


With the support of CN, the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation initiated a pilot project this winter in collaboration with the Anishnabe Nation of Lac Simon, in Abitibi-Temiscamingue. Once a week from mid-January to late February, over 30 second- and third-grade students from Amikobi School learned the basics of ice skating with Foundation coaches. Each of the six lessons, conducted at the BLEU BLANC BOUGE rink in Val-d’Or, was inspired by the Foundation’s introductory skating program, which was established in 2009 and has been successfully implemented across the province since. 

Taking a culture-based approach that is respectful of the rich traditions and unique perspectives of First Nations on education, health, well-being, and physical activity, the Foundation collaborated with pedagogical advisors and school success coordinators at Amikobi School and the Anishnabe Nation of Lac Simon Council to adapt the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program curriculum. In a holistic approach, each session introduced a new value through contributions from different community leaders, elders, and knowledge keepers. Every week, young participants received a visit from a member of their community, who joined the class to share legends or stories illustrating various life lessons highlighted during the onice sessions, such as perseverance, selfesteem, teamwork, organization, appreciation, and the benefits of being active. To celebrate their recent achievements, and thanks to CNs generosity, several families from Lac Simon will have the opportunity to put their learnings into practice during a skating session on the Bell Centre ice with other First Nations invitees before attending the Montreal Canadiens game against the Carolina Hurricanes as part of First Peoples Celebration Night on Mar. 30. 

In the coming months, the Foundation will initiate efforts to establish partnerships with diverse Indigenous communities in Quebec, expanding the reach of the program to a greater number of children. The program will be adapted and enriched in collaboration with each community where it will be implemented to ensure its cultural relevance and alignment with the specific needs, challenges, and available resources of the community and its youth. 

About First Peoples Celebration Night 

On Saturday, Mar. 30, the Canadiens host their First Peoples Celebration Night when they welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the Bell Centre. Representatives from various Indigenous organizations and communities across Quebec will be in attendance for the evening, which will showcase the richness and diversity of Indigenous cultures. The organization has collaborated with Maliseet graphic designer Maxime Jenniss from the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation to reimagine the Canadiens’ logo. The unique design will appear on in-arena visuals and on limited edition merchandise available for sale at Tricolore Sports. An auction powered by Tim Hortons and featuring items signed by former Canadiens and NHL hockey players will also raise funds for the Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec in support of their educational success program. Youth from various First Nations who frequent some of Quebec’s Native Friendship Centres will also be on-hand for the game, thanks to tickets donated by Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation and Ford Canada, the Club’s corporate partner.