Standing Bear IndigenousYouth Leadership Program Launches Online Portal to Support Journey of Self Discovery

Standing Bear IndigenousYouth Leadership Program Launches Online Portal to Support Journey of Self Discovery

Innovative program builds leadership capacity, through the reconnection of youth to who they are as Indigenous Peoples.

Wallaceburg, Ontario – October 22, 2019 – Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) announced the launch of their new online portal for the Standing Bear Indigenous Youth Leadership Program (Standing Bear), on Tuesday at Wallaceburg District Secondary School, in front of an audience of First Nations students, community elders, and educators. Standing Bear is a leadership program for Indigenous youth (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) between the ages of 14 and 24, residing in Ontario; the program consists of a core Indigenous component and six elective streams, to align with youth interests and needs. Indigenous youth have the opportunity to join the program at any time and achieve certification at their own pace.

A unique for youth-by youth program, Standing Bear was developed in consultation with more than 550 Indigenous youth from across Ontario and offers a new approach to building leadership capacity, one that has more to do with looking inward rather than outward. Standing Bear is based on the premise that for Indigenous youth, grounding themselves in their unique cultural ways of knowing, being and doing, is fundamental to developing their capacity as leaders.

“Standing Bear offers youth the chance to learn about who they are as Indigenous Peoples” says Zhahwun Shognosh, an Ojibwe/ Native Studies Teacher at Wallaceburg District Secondary School. “Culture used to be taught at home and in the community, but now it’s even more important for Indigenous youth to learn their culture at school and to see it represented in all areas of their lives. The moment they realize the great wealth of knowledge within and feel the support of a strong community around them, they can walk forward in a good way – with their heads held high – knowing who they are and where they come from.”

The program is now entering its second phase of development and delivery, with a focus on increased integration with schools, communities and program partners. Wallaceburg District Secondary School is a prime example of the important partnerships the program is building and the impact is has on students, teachers, the school and the community. Wallaceburg began piloting the program last year with great results, and continued with it this year, under the leadership of Ms. Shognosh and with the full support of the administration and school board.

We are proud to support the engagement of Wallaceburg District Secondary School students and staff in the Standing Bear, Indigenous Youth Leadership Program,” said Lambton Kent District School Board Director John Howitt. “This program provides students and staff with access to additional community and cultural supports; enhances students’ understanding of Indigenous histories and perspectives; and promotes student leadership and well-being.”

The new online portal is a game changer – providing access to online learning materials and resources, and opportunities for certification in six distinct areas of interest – 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day. The Standing Bear online portal ‘fills the gap’ between in-person camps and programs which take place on an annual basis. Participants in Standing Bear can earn credit on their own, through the online portal, in their community, at a Standing Bear camp or through another organization; the focus is on recognizing Indigenous youth achievement in all it’s forms.

“Standing Bear offers an incredible opportunity for youth to successfully find their path in two worlds and feel at ease in both” says Marc Laliberte, President of Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario. “Learning about who they are, opens doors for who they can become and the online portal is a big part of that. With access to support, online learning materials and modules, and opportunities to achieve certification in six distinct areas, the Standing Bear program offers a positive and culturally relevant way forward.”

To learn more about Standing Bear, visit

About Standing Bear

The Standing Bear Indigenous Youth Leadership Program, developed by Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO), was initially funded by the Government of Ontario, in a shared journey of reconciliation in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. In 2017, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport provided funding for a two-year period to develop and implement a youth driven, culturally relevant, effective and comprehensive leadership program that would increase wellness, build capacity, reduce risks and support Indigenous youth and their communities to access opportunities for education, employment and leadership.

Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) Quick Facts:

  • ISWO is the designated Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Body (P/TASB) for the province of Ontario, funded through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and Sport Canada.
  • ISWO serves all Indigenous Peoples and communities across Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, living on and off-reserve, in rural and urban settings, encompassing more than 350,000 Indigenous Peoples in the province.
  • ISWO promotes and creates opportunities for participation in sport and cultural activities that promote wellness and positive lifestyles for Indigenous Peoples across Ontario.
  • ISWO is recognized by the Aboriginal Sport Circle (ASC) and the North American Indigenous Games Council, and is the designated sport body for the development, selection and management of Team Ontario, which participates in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships and North American Indigenous Games.

For more information about ISWO, visit

The Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB) has approximately 21,895 students in 62 elementary and secondary schools across the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, County of Lambton and Municipality of Lambton Shores. The LKDSB has four First Nation partners, including Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Delaware Nation, Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, and Walpole Island (Bkejwanong) First Nation. For more information about LKDSB, visit



ISWO honours the traditional lands and homelands of all Indigenous Peoples and communities across the province of Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis living both on and off-reserve, in rural and urban communities.


Contact Information:

Lambton Kent District School Board

Heather Hughes, Public Relations Officer


Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO)

Kylie Thompson, Communications and Media Coordinator