Thunder Bay students stand up and stand together

Third annual We Stand Up conference brings 1,400 students together.

 CBC News Posted: May 05, 2016 7:30 AM ET

Almost 1,400 students, from 30 local elementary and secondary schools, attended the third annual We Stand Up Student conference in Thunder Bay, Ont. for a day of education and inspiration on Wednesday.

This year’s key message was ‘How can you be a good human being?’

Hannah Smith, 17, is a grade 12 student from Hammerskjold High School, and on the executive team for the 2016 We Stand Up student conference in Thunder Bay. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)

“The slogan of being a good human being really translates to student life and keeping kids engaged in school,” says Hannah Smith, a member of the We Stand Up executive team and student trustee for the Lakehead District School Board.

“If there’s anything that I hope people can take away from today is the confidence, and the drive, and the motivation to do something that they feel really passionate about,” Smith said.

Talitha Tolles was one of 12 speakers helping motivate the students at this year’s event.

She’s the ambassador of the We Stand together campaign, which focuses on bridging gaps between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal youth.

“This day to me is really important, because I have the opportunity to share a piece of my culture, and being able to share that and give a voice to young people who have had that voice taken away is really important,” she said.

Talitha Tolles, Aboriginal programming coordinator and motivational speaker with Free The Children, addressed students at the event. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)

It’s a privilege, Tolles said, to reach out to youth and remind them of the power that they can and already have. “Being a good person is taking those things that you really love and sharing those gifts and talents with other people,” she said.

“It’s not just labelling yourself as a good person, you have to work on it every single day.”



Thunder Bay students learn farming from the Pizza Project

A cheesy tradition introduces students to agriculture

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Apr 14, 2016 7:30 AM ET

Grade 3 students from Thunder Bay are learning where all the ingredients for pizza come from at the annual Pizza Project Wednesday and Thursday at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition.

It’s a tradition for Marian Benka, the honourary director of the CLE, who has been running the annual event for 24 years.

It’s an important way to educate students and bring the farm to the city, she said.

“They have to know that there are a lot of things that go into [pizza] before they can get it,”  Benka said.

Benka expects more than 600 children to attend this year’s two day event.

Students go through eight stations to learn about agriculture, including dairy, sausage, vegetables, machinery and nutrition.

Along the way they plant their very own tomato plant to take home, and at the end they get to savour a hot a slice of pizza.

Thunder Bay girls basketball program celebrates 10-year anniversary

The Lakehead University based program is celebrating a decade of teaching girls how to dribble.

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Apr 16, 2016 8:00 AM ET

2013 Jr Wolves Team Induction
The 2013 U18 Jr. Wolves team was honoured for their achievements at the RBC Spring Social in early April in Thunder Bay, Ont. The team went undefeated and captured both the Ontario Basketball Association Championship and the Minneapolis Youth Athletic Services Championship. (Lakehead University)

Jon Kreiner is celebrating a decade of teaching girls across Thunder Bay, Ont. how to compete on the basketball court.

Coach Kreiner has run the Jr. Wolves program in the city for the past 10 years, working to “develop basketball at a grassroots level in Thunder Bay.”

Based out of Lakehead University’s athletics facilities, the program is the only dedicated girls basketball development program in the city. Over the past decade it’s given more than 400 girls the opportunity to develop their skills at a competitive level.

In 2007 Kreiner formally started the Jr. Wolves program, hoping to “raise the awareness of basketball, the level of basketball, the numbers playing basketball,” among female players.

Coach K
Lakehead Women’s Basketball team coach Jon Kreiner instructing plays on the court. (Lakehead University)

“Girls can be just as high level or involved as the boys in basketball here in Thunder Bay,” he said.

Today the development program runs from October to March, and includes girls from Grades 3-6. The club program, for girls Grades 5-12, starts as soon as the high school basketball season ends in December.

To date, the program has produced over 30 players who have gone on to play basketball at a University level.

Some coaches have also come out of the program, including Katie Ulakovic, assistant coach for Hammerskjold High School’s varsity girls team, and Carolyn Fregale, an OUA All-Star, now a head coach for the Junior girls team at St. Ignatius High School.

Ulakovic was a player on the first Jr. Wolves team that ever played.

“Seeing our girls give back at the high school or the club level, that’s the next evolution of what you’re going to see,” said Kreiner.

Girls can be just as at high a level or involved as the boys in basketball here in Thunder Bay– Coach Jeff Kreiner

The past decade has been all about growth, and creating a space for talent at home, said Kreiner.

Now “we can develop our own players right here in our backyard in Thunder Bay,” he said.

This month the program’s success was toasted at the Lakehead Athletic’s RBC Spring Social, with a visit from local MP and Minister for the Status of Women Patty Hajdu.