Brandon resident introduces Oji-Cree Softball – a Softball Development Program for Aboriginal/Metis Youth

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Photo: Submitted

Brandon resident Patrick Leask recently unveiled his new initiate called Oji-Cree Softball – a Softball Development Program for Aboriginal/Metis Youth. In conversation with bdnmb.ca earlier today Patrick said would like to see boys softball make a comeback in Manitoba. When he attends ball tournaments with his current team (Layne’s Stars) he sees a lot of talented men and women teams and lots of kids watching or playing on open diamonds but he also saw a gap where there could be opportunity. His daughter plays competitive softball and she has lots of options with training or playing but he didn’t see a lot of opportunity for boys aged U8-U19 to play softball in Manitoba. In looking to fill that gap, his main goal is to travel to First Nation and Metis communities to offer clinics and promote healthy, active lifestyles. Future plans include creating a boys softball team to play house league and possibly travel depending on the interest.

The logo was created to represent Patrick’s family life, the 285 & 314 are their band numbers and their children are Oji-Cree’s both treaty to Waywayseecappo. The Thunderbird represents their son’s Indian name which is Strong Thunderbird Man : Zhoongi Pinesi Inini. The bats represent their love for the game.

Patrick himself is a talented athlete have spent several years playing junior hockey in Swan River and a season in Saint John, N.B. playing in the QMJHL. Raised in Sapotaweyak, he grew up around addiction and saw the negative effects it had on friends and family, mostly on children. Sports was his way out, that was his ticket but he had many moments in his life where he just wanted to give up and move back to the reserve. During his clinics he intends to share his story and offer positive messages of hope to the youth who attend. He had help from many people along the way including his father-in-law (Wallace Clearsky), the McGraw’s, Bettesworth’s, and Hohn’s who all assisted him in becoming the person he is today. More recently he said that he has received incredible guidance from Bev Neufeld and positive vibes and encouragement from Ed Dyck.

Since the announcement of this initiative it has been an extremely busy few days for Patrick. People from all over the province have reached out with notes of encouragement, while others have inquired about the direction of the clinics. He has lived in Brandon for the past 14-years with his wife (Ojibway and treaty to Waywayseecappo (285)) and two children. Patrick has been employed by Manitoba Hydro for the past 13 years and still plays senior hockey (Boissevain Border Kings) and fastball with the Layne’s Stars (Mallard). For more information on Oji-Cree Softball , or to find out more about Patrick, please visit their Facebook page here.