Olympic soccer players Christine Sinclair and Saskatoon-born Kaylyn Kyle flew to the northern Saskatchewan villages of Pinehouse and Ile-a-la-Crosse Monday for a meet and greet with students from several communities.
“These kids are remarkable,” Sinclair said. “The way they appreciate everything they have. The response you get here is not the same response you get in a Vancouver or Toronto.”
“I kind of see myself in them,” Kyle said. “They’re just so driven. They’re kind of like sponges, they want to learn and pick your brain, and if we can inspire one or two or all of them, we’re doing our jobs as athletes and role models.”
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Hundreds of students gave the two women a hero’s welcome. Officials say it is rare to have athletes of this calibre visit their schools. Sinclair is considered one of the best soccer players in the world, and Kyle won bronze at the 2012 Olympics in London. Both play professionally for the Portland Thorns.
Once plagued by social problems, Pinehouse is now pushing for more education among its youth. The population there is very young, and opportunities for them lag behind other areas in the province. Pinehouse’s first Grade 12 class only graduated in the early 1990s.
In Ile-a-la-Crosse, educators are working hard to combat high drop out rates. According to provincial statistics, 40.3 per cent of First Nations and Metis students graduate from high school, much less than the overall rate of 74.7 per cent. Officials from Ile-a-la-Crosse say even fewer students move on to university of college.
“There’s a lot of socio-economic challenges that we face as northern communities. And sometimes even getting to school is a challenge for a lot of students and their families,” said Duane Favel, mayor of Ile-a-la-Crosse.
The trip was sponsored by Cameco Corporation.
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