At the end of February the sports and recreation department in Chisasibi were victorious in getting a resolution passed that would “give priority” to the department when it came to offering services to the community over groups from outside the community.

The Band Council of Chisasibi tabled this resolution after a February 13 presentation made by Trevor Allen Monaghan and Roy Neacappo to the council on how the work was being outsourced to outside parties and that this was not of benefit to the people of Chisasibi as the community’s youth was being deprived of work experience.

On February 21, then acting Chief Daisy House sent a letter of support to Monaghan and Neacappo stating:

“We understand that there have been several entities from outside of the community that have provided programs in the community but have outsourced the work force. We further agree that priority be given to both your departments before any entity from outside of the community to be mandated to offer programs in Chisasibi.”

Catching up with Monaghan, he told the Nation that his presentation to the Band Council was mainly to ensure that groups like Thunderbird Management Services Inc. (TMSI), no longer get contracts in the community.

He explained that in the past this group had put on summer programs for the kids in the community but that these programs had been run by Ottawa students.

“Where does that money end up going? Down south and we don’t end up providing any work experience for our kids and so we are loosing funding for work experience programs,” explained Monaghan.

With the new resolution in place, Monaghan has it set up so that priority is given to his department to provide programs for all aspects of fitness and recreation in the community. And, he is adamant that the group of trainers that he personally trained and certified through the Good Life Fitness Club in Ottawa can handle just about everything when it comes to providing community sports and recreation programs. This includes providing programs that involve resistance balls, similar to the Lemon Cree programs that are very popular everywhere else in Eeyou Istchee, except in Chisasibi.

In celebrating his victory over being granted control over the community’s fitness and recreation programs, Monaghan took to the internet to let the Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association (CWEIA) know just how happy he was to have obtained this letter and official priority.

“Secured programming here in Chisasibi for Fitness and Recreation, developed and run by us Crees. WOOHOO!” he posted on the group’s Facebook page.

While Monaghan was simply feeling enthusiastic and wanting to share his victory with the world, or more specifically, the female population of the Cree nation, the comments reeked of sarcasm as some of the women of Chisasibi had been requesting that a Lemon Cree program for months before Monaghan and Neacappo made their presentation.

Starting in 2010 with the CWEIA, Theresa Ducharme’s Resist-a-ball fitness programs have caught on like wildfire throughout the communities and have now seen over 400 Crees receive training with incredible weight loss results and an additional 41 individuals have now been certified as Lemon Cree fitness trainers.

The desire however is still alive in Chisasibi to see the Lemon Cree training programs make their way to the community as not everyone is satisfied with the kind of programs Monaghan and Neacappo are offering.

Said one Chisasibi woman who didn’t want to be identified:

“I don’t like using the services that are currently being offered in Chisasibi because I really don’t feel comfortable with the trainers because they are all young guys.

“Whenever I have gone into that gym it’s just a bunch really athletic guys who won’t even greet me or make any kind of eye contact with me, but instead hover all together in one corner. It’s just so uncomfortable, I feel like they are passing judgment on me.

“There is nobody in there that I can relate too.

“I really wanted the Lemon Cree program because I feel that it is just such a positive and supportive environment for women. I feel that they can help me achieve my goals best.”

She went on to say that she is not the only one in this position.

But, whether this means Chisasibi will actually be running Lemon Cree programs remains to be seen.

Monaghan said repeatedly that he had yet to receive any kind of proposal from Ducharme’s people and that a written proposal was necessary.

While Monaghan has no issue with Ducharme herself, he seems to take issue with the Crees who have taken her instructor-training course.

“When you look at accredited organizations, sure this is popular and I would let Theresa run her program here. Theresa is a brand name; she is a dynamic trainer and she has a great personality, but ultimately as you certify people some of that filters down and it is not the same and that is my concern,” said Monaghan.

While in one breath Monaghan said his department already had a model in place to certify trainers at his gym in Chisasibi and that Ducharme may have copied that, in his next he questions the sustainability of Lemon Cree courses in the communities and the standards at which her trainers are trained.

“That’s my question with Theresa, are we [sic] getting her as the brand or is it the programs because we can create our own ball programs. We already use exercise balls in some of our programs. I used ball training over 10 years ago and sure it is great and it is new and there is obviously a need for it, but I haven’t had anything come across my desk that is actually valid and I am waiting,” Monaghan added.

In following up with Ducharme however, not only has the Lemon Cree fitness programs had a tremendous impact on the Cree in the communities that have had the opportunity to take the courses, but her trainers are also 100% legitimate. For that matter, her training program was created based on the curriculum she developed for McGill University.

“Currently we are partnered with Sports Fitness Canada to provide our instructors with insurance and liability coverage if they are not covered by the sports and recreation or any other training facility.

“From an economic standpoint, we are pleased to say that our certification program has created employment for our instructors and our programs have been running successfully for years now. Our instructors are people who have a passion in exercising and in helping others reach their fitness and wellness goals,” said Ducharme.

She encouraged anyone who wanted to find out more about the Lemon Cree programs to visit her website: