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Empowering Indigenous children & youth through physical activity

The Recreation & Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN)’s Get HAPPY Summer Day Camp is one of our Saputo Signature Grant recipients, six incredible organizations from across Canada who exemplify how physical activity helps #MeYouUs.

ParticipACTION is proud to partner with Saputo for the Community Better Challenge. Together, we are working towards building healthy communities, one active Canadian at a time. 

The Recreation & Parks Association of Nunavut activities

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day – a time to recognize the history, heritage and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. For Indigenous children and youth living in remote, northern communities, it can often be challenging for them to find opportunities to keep busy and be physically active.

“Recreation and sport contribute to a better lifestyle, so if we can get kids playing and having fun from a younger age, then there’s a greater chance that they’ll grow up to be active and fun-loving adults,” said Dawn Currie MacKinnon, head of the Recreation & Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN).

To help improve the lives of children and youth living in remote Nunavut communities, RPAN offers a six- to eight-week-long program called Get HAPPY Summer Day Camp. Participants engage in arts and crafts as well as physical activities and sports, including Inuit games, lacrosse, floor hockey, dodgeball and soccer. Since 2015, more than 10,000 children and 500 youth leaders (most of whom are Indigenous) have participated in this unique program.


The Recreation & Parks Association of Nunavut activitiesRPAN provides the financial support, training, resources, equipment and supplies needed to implement the day camps in each community. A major part of the program is the annual four-day training session in Iqaluit where youth leaders from each participating community learn how to deliver their own day camps within their communities. From the training, the youth leaders gain and develop many important skills, including teamwork, networking and effective communication.

“While these skills are meant to help the youth leaders successfully run day camps, they’re also needed in many other parts of their lives, whether it’s in school, at other jobs or with their families,” said Dawn.

Joanne Weedmark, a recreation coordinator in Kinngait, Nunavut, found the training session very helpful. “It was great to engage with other youth leaders and learn about teamwork, ethics, planning and budgeting to help us successfully run the day camps here in Kinngait.”

Get HAPPY Summer Day Camp

This is the first year that Joanne’s community is participating in the Get HAPPY Summer Day Camp program. “Having organized activities going on throughout the day keeps kids in a routine of staying active and engaging with each other, so I decided that having my community take part in the program would be really beneficial to our children and youth,” said Joanne. “I look forward to seeing their happy faces!”

Another major part of the program is the Summer Day Camp Challenge. Throughout June, as part of the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge and with the support of a Saputo Signature Grant, each participating community has been engaging in various physical activities on a weekly basis and earning points towards a final total. The top three communities will win a cash prize that will be reinvested into physical activity within their communities. The challenge also includes an Arctic sports day where the communities participate in Inuit games such as one-foot high kick and arm pull.

“It’s absolutely essential for these kids to see their culture represented through the sports and activities they do,” said Dawn.

The Get HAPPY Summer Day Camp program underscores the incredible ability of physical activity and sport to bring together and empower Indigenous children and youth living in remote communities.

Join the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge

Physical activity helps me, you, us! Getting active provides benefits for your community and you, like improved mood, increased energy and a stronger sense of connection with others. From June 1-30, get active to help your community be crowned Canada’s Most Active Community and win $100,000!

Download or open the free ParticipACTION app to join!

The ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge is proudly supported by the Government of Canada and Saputo.

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