SIX NATIONS – Grade 7 and Grade 8 students at Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo school will finally be able to participate in the Six Nations Police PALS program thanks to a donation from the police department and a determined teacher from Six Nations.
Community Service Officer Janna Miller and a group of police officers accompanied Chief of Police Glenn Lickers on Monday, January 30 to the school and presented them a cheque for $2,000. Grade 7 and Grade 8 teacher Joanne Longboat spent the last two school years trying to implement the PALS program at the school.
“Today we’re giving a cheque for $2,000 for sports equipment for the school,” said Miller. “We run a program at all the other schools on the territory called the Police Athletic League for Students (PALS) and Kawenni:io hasn’t been able to participate for the last few years because they don’t have sporting equipment. This donation is going to help offset the cost of that.”
The PALs program has been operating on the territory since 1992. It is an after-school program where Grade 7 and Grade 8 students play sports, chat, and hang out with Six Nations police officers who are volunteering their time to spend with the youth. The sporting equipment is going to be used for the PALS program, but also for the rest of the students in the school.
“It’s about getting comfortable with the community police,” said Miller. “The program has proven to build relationships between the officers and youth. We find that when we respond to calls, the kids that know us are not afraid of us and it helps in that area. I can go anywhere in the community and all the kids know who I am they all know my name. That’s what the program is meant to accomplish.”
Longboat’s Grade 7 and Grade 8 students were there for the cheque presentation and were extremely excited and appreciative of the donation. She was the driving force behind the idea to bring PALS to the school.
“I’m excited that we get new sports equipment because we don’t really have much here at the school now so it’ll be great for us,” said Shakorenná:wis Doxtador-Swamp, a Grade 7 Cayuga student. “We can practise more for sports and we can start building up our teams.”
Shakorenná:wis said that he wants to get better at lacrosse so one day he can play his favourite sport while living out his dream of playing in the National Lacrosse League.
Grade 8 Cayuga student Lydia Jamieson is excited for the new sports equipment because she feels that sometimes their school misses out on opportunities that other schools on the territory have available to them.
“I feel like we don’t really get to do as much sports things as the other schools,” said Lydia. “We have some, but not very much. I love softball — I like most sports a lot so this donation is awesome. Thank you Six Nations Police!”
Chief of Police Glenn Lickers said that the relationships made between the police officers and youth from the PALS program are invaluable.
“It’s important for us to have that relationship with the kids, and our kids in particular, because we think that it’s good for us to know the youth in the community,” he said. “PALS kids all go to school on Six Nations. Eventually when they go to high school they will leave the territory and we want to help them feel comfortable interacting with police in any community they may find themselves in. PALS has always been the one program that is the most important to us. It’s been around for so long that the kids who were in PALS when it first started are now young adults and it’s not uncommon for them to come up to an officer and remember and acknowledge that they were a part of the program. That’s what we hold on to, and that’s what reminds us how important the program is.”
To Longboat, this donation is a symbol of fairness to the community’s youth.
“The donation means fairness for one thing,” she said. “All the students on the territory have the PALS program except for us, so for them to now be included is a great thing. We’ve always been a little behind the other schools it seems in terms of location and certain equipment and sports teams. We’re hoping our sports teams will get better and better now thanks to the police’s donation.”