Philanthropy in Ottawa: Indigenous youth get assist from former NHL players

John Cabot and Shawn Rivers
John Cabot, left, and Shawn Rivers are the co-founders of Anish Branding. (Photo by Mark Holleron)
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Who: Former NHL players John Chabot and Shawn Rivers 

The goal: $100,000 

The recipients: Indigenous youth via First Assist

The inspiration: “I am Indigenous and I feel it is important to give back. Although the graduation rates in the Indigenous communities we work in have greatly improved, we are still well below the national average. There is still plenty of work to be done.” – John Chabot, co-founder of Anish Branding and director of First Assist

Local business owners – and former NHL players – Shawn Rivers and John Chabot (Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg) are setting their sights on raising $100,000 to support youth in northern Indigenous communities across Canada.

As co-founders of promotional products and apparel firm Anish Branding, Rivers and Chabot are donating five per cent of their sales from government agencies and charitable organizations to First Assist, an organization founded by Chabot in 2012 that received charitable status earlier this year.

They are already well on their way towards their goal, having raised $17,500 since January.

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First Assist has worked with more than 3,000 Indigenous youths, delivering on-site education and sports integration programming.

Rivers says he hopes that the funds raised will help the organization continue its work for the foreseeable future as well as motivate other companies to give back.

“We hope to inspire other local businesses to make a positive impact in whichever way they can,” he says.

First Assist’s main goal is to help all students obtain their high school diploma while developing the confidence and life skills they need if they choose to pursue post-secondary education or employment outside of their community. First Assist uses sports, such as hockey, as a motivational tool to increase classroom attendance and participation as well as promote a healthy and active lifestyle.

All fundraising efforts will provide students with new sports equipment, as well as sending professionals to develop and implement sport integration programs in the community’s schools. The charitable organization also helps to educate teachers on how to continue running the programs themselves to increase their sustainability.

“Over the past few years, our First Assist programs have proven to reduce student absenteeism and increase attendance in school,” says Chabot.

Philanthropy in Ottawa is a monthly feature highlighting notable donations in Ottawa. Share your stories of philanthropy in our community with news@obj.ca. And be sure to read the latest edition of OBJ’s Giving Guide: