They cheered, they jeered and gobbled down treats and kept their fingers crossed for the home team on February 12 when the Caisse Populaire Desjardins sent children from Mistissini, Waswanipi and Oujé-Bougoumou to see the Montreal Canadiens play the Toronto Maple Leafs as a reward for their good school performance.

For the third year in a row, the Major Accounts department for First Nations

business services at Desjardins had the honour of providing tickets to children from three Cree communities as a way of promoting academic success.

“The Desjardins Group, with the assistance of the Mistassini Lake Caisse (Paul-Yvon Pichette) and the Wawanipi Caisse (Claude Tremblay) and in collaboration with the Business Centre of the Eastern Abitibi (Gilles Gaudet) and the Fédération des caisses Desjardins (Yves Poirier), had the pleasure of welcoming these young people,” said senior manager Yves Poirier.

According to Poirier, the youth night at the Bell Centre started three years ago after a conversation he had with then Mistissini Chief John Longchap out of a desire Desjardins had to further its community involvement and invest in the community’s future through the youth.

While the Desjardins Group also helps out in these three communities by sponsoring annual summer golf tournaments and providing funds for special projects for Elders, this particular program was started in the hopes of seeing academic success rates improve.

“Instead of providing hockey tickets for the politicians or for people looking for them, we decided to invest in the youth of the community, particularly when it came to education. We know that this is a major problem within all First Nations communities whether they are Cree, Innu or Atikamek,” said Poirier.

Each community had the opportunity to compile a list of its leading students and then draw names from a hat to select the lucky winners who got to fill those prestigious seats at the Bell Centre that Desjardins provided in the Desjardins booth and in the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation booth. Desjardins provided for the tickets and meals for the participants while the individual communities provided for transportation to Montreal and accommodations while there.
The lucky winners were:


Dagoodin Blacksmith and Serena Gull

Secondary: Curtis Gull and Meagan Icebound-Ottereyes

Chaperone: Roseanna Blacksmith.

Grade 6: Destiny Blacksmith

Sec. 1 E / F: Elston Salt

Sec. 2 / 3: Brandon Bosum

Sec. 4 / 5: Yolanda Bosum

Chaperone: Bella Mianscum


Elementary: Julie-Ann Jolly (Grade 5)

Keesha Neeposh-Baribeau (Grade 6)

Reshawn Matoush (Grade 5)

Vernon Matoush (Grade 6)

Secondary: Emerald Ottereyes (Sec 3)

Nemiah Shecapio (Sec 2)

The Desjardins Group wishes to thank the following individuals who helped make the night out with the kids a triumphant success:

Roseanna Blacksmith (Waswanipi), Bella Mianscum (Oujé-Bougoumou), Jerry Matoush and Olivia Metabie Matoush (Mistissini), the teachers and school principals in the three communities as well as Jimmy Iserhoff, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Lake Mistassini Caisse.