The File Hills Qu’Appelle Rookie Baseball League started in 2018 with a partnership between the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council and the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Jays Care Foundation. Based in Saskatchewan, the council’s main goals in introducing the program were to engage their community, create intergenerational connections, and reduce mental health issues reported in the summer months by providing a unique, fun baseball league for their 11 Nations.
The league does outreach through “community tours” where they promote their program, exposing girls to women role models who enjoy participating in sport to help them gain the confidence to participate.
The league is open to anyone, but the Tribal Council hosts Sport Development Sessions leading up to the Saskatchewan First Nation Summer and Winter Games where the league practices once a week with the girls baseball teams to develop sport skills, confidence, and create a community of girls and women who “heal” through sport and physical activity.
While this girl-centred activity focuses on teams going to the Games, the league season is based on a points system rather than wins or losses. Teams can get points in many ways, such as having fans come to the games, having a Chief or Council members present, or having an Elder open the game. This takes the pressure off winning and leaves room for fun and community support – these are also factors that help to create positive sport experiences for girls.