SMOKE SIGNALS: Youth have a ‘Right to Play’

SMOKE SIGNALS: Youth have a ‘Right to Play’


By Marvin Louie

Osoyoos Indian Band

The Osoyoos Indian Band has had the pleasure of being associated with the organization “Right To Play” (RTP), which sets up sport and play programs, mainly after school for aboriginal communities across Canada.

The main focus of Right To Play is to set up programs (using sport and play provisions) for aboriginal communities that foster the healthy, physical, social, cognitive and emotional development of children and youth (aged 6-18).

Our kids at Sen-Pok-Chin (aged 6-13) have really enjoyed the RTP after-school program which runs from 3-5 p.m. daily, and the leadership abilities of some of the youth have really blossomed over the last couple of years.

Each spring (usually in May) I (as the community RTP mentor for OIB) get to take two youth to the annual Youth Leadership Symposium which this year took place in Gibsons from April 29-May 4. Neither the two youth nor I had ever been to Gibsons and when we arrived that Sunday night (getting off the ferry) we had dinner at a place called Molly’s Reach, not realizing at first that this was an iconic site for a Canadian comedy-drama television series called “The Beachcombers” that ran from 1972-1990.

After seeing the pictures on the wall and talking to a few people inside the restaurant we finally realized what a cool place this was. It was neat to see later on, after we got back to Oliver, some of “The Beachcombers” episodes on YouTube and see the exact table that we had dinner on.

During the week at the Youth Leadership Symposium I would have to say that our OIB youth (as well as Keremeos RTP youth and community mentor were the most well-mannered kids at the camp (Camp Sunrise) and they also demonstrated their leadership skills and abilities while at the same time taking in new information that will only endure their future success. They also showed off their talents at the weekend talent show which included playing the piano and doing a variety of dances.

Overall, it was a great success and now our RTP youth leaders can bring back what they have learned and share it with the rest of the RTP kids.

One of the skills our RTP youth are getting better at each year is leading community events which tie the RTP youth to the rest of the OIB community. On May 30 at the OIB Community Hall the youth presented the first RTP/senior bingo night which was properly entitled “Getting to Know You.” An OIB senior sits with an RTP youth and discusses things that have happened during the week.

After dinner was over, the bingo games started, or as the famous boxing referee Mills Lane would say, “Let’s Get It On!” Each senior and RTP youth would form one team and each had one bingo card to play; if they won a game then each of them would go and pick a prize from the selected tables.

It was funny to see the youth get upset (pound the table or sigh) when they came close to a bingo but someone else won. As one senior said, “They’re acting like regular bingo players now.”      

Until next month, as one great First Nation chief once said: “We are all born crazy, unfortunately some of us remain that way.”


  1. I found Smoke Signals an uplifting positive article. Just the kind I like reading. I am always impressed at the amount of good work done by community members. Oliver residents and OBI. Loved seeing Reggie Leach in Oliver last year. Great book of his.


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