In February 2016 at the age of 21, Dwight Ballantyne left his remote northern Saskatchewan reserve to pursue education, employment and hockey. He faced the challenges of leaving his community, family and friends with persistence and determination and his success has surpassed anything he could have imagined. In March 2019, Dwight returned from Europe where he represented Team Canada in an international hockey tournament and it was upon reflection of his journey over the past 4 years that he was inspired to start The Ballantyne Project to provide inspiration, opportunity and a voice to individuals living in remote First Nations.
The Ballantyne Project was founded in April 2020 by Dwight Ballantyne through his desire to provide inspiration, opportunity and a voice to individuals living in remote First Nations.
Dwight was born and raised in Montreal Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, where he faced the same barriers of isolation and unemployment as many youth currently living in remote First Nations in Canada.
In February 2016 Dwight heard of a one-year College Preparation Program being offered in British Columbia for Indigenous youth and made the difficult decision to leave everything and everyone he had ever known to pursue education, employment and hockey.
While he attended the College Preparation Program Dwight also focused on improving his already excellent hockey skills through a strict fitness program and as much ice time as possible. He made connections in the local hockey community and was invited to play in native tournaments throughout British Columbia as well as on highly competitive local men’s teams.
In January 2018 Dwight decided he wanted to give opportunity to other young men living in remote reserves who also had a passion for hockey. Based on his personal training regimen, and with input from Sport For Life, ISPARC and the Directors of the College Preparation Program, he developed and directed a Hockey Skills and Leadership Program and young men from Western Canada came to British Columbia to attend. This program led him to receive the BC Premier’s Award for Youth Excellence in Sport in November 2018.
In March 2019 Dwight was invited to represent Team Canada in an International hockey tournament in Europe. When the owner of the team was looking for a highly skilled forward Dwight recommended Darian Brown who had been one of the participants of the Hockey Skills and Leadership Program. Darian was also invited to represent Team Canada and was given the honour of Captain of the team. Dwight and Darian were excited to be reunited on the ice and Canada won Gold for the first time in 22 years. Upon returning from this once in a lifetime experience he was again inspired to provide opportunity to others living in remote First Nations and founded The Ballantyne Project.
The Ballantyne Project formed partnerships with the Martin Family Initiative and the Mission Friendship Centre to create a four-week Entrepreneurship Program which will be offered in June 2020 to Indigenous youth ages 19 – 30. Participants will return to their communities with a business plan and be mentored by a business coach for one year in order to help them achieve their short and long-term business goals.
The Ballantyne Project team is travelling to remote First Nations for four-day visits from September 2019 to April 2020 where Dwight will share his inspirational story and program information to community members.
The Ballantyne Project will also bring awareness to Canadians about life in remote First Nations through social media as we share our experiences and the stories of individuals we meet in each community we visit.
Dwight understands the challenges that come from living on a remote First Nation and he has the focus and determination necessary to create change. He has made the decision to use his experience to bring hope and inspire others who would like to follow in his footsteps and achieve endless possibilities that may have never been available to them.
Mission & Goals
- Raise awareness about life on reserve and in remote communities by completing social media campaigns and attending local events
- Bring hope to youth living in communities and helping to inspire them to take advantage of opportunities
- Travel to remote reserves to present the Ballantyne Entrepreneurship program
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Disclaimer – Donations made in response to this project campaign will be designated to our SELF-DETERMINATION Fund. Funds will be designated for the purpose for which they were given but in the event that monies received are more than required, donations will be directed at the discretion of True North Aid toward other initiatives within this same fund that carry a similar mandate. We will do everything we can to maximize your donation through discounted services, supplies, and gift-in-kind contributions from the people and business we work with.