Garden Hill Welcomes OLI
November 14th, 2014

On Monday October 27, OLI made its first trip to Garden Hill First Nation in northern Manitoba to launch this year’s OLI program.


All of the students from grade 7 to 12 met in the gym Tuesday morning to learn the basics of Outside Looking In. At 1 pm all the 7/8s were invited to the gym to begin learning choreography under the direction of OLI Choreographer Queenie Seguban.


Later that afternoon, the Seniors took to the gym floor for their first rehearsal, and later that evening, more than twenty youth came out for their second rehearsal of the day.


By Thursday, both Senior and Middle Years students were looking awesome! Over one hundred youth impressed us with their ability to stay focused and to quickly pick up choreography. The youth will be working hard over the next month to attend school every day, to do their school work, and to rehearse on their own and with friends.


Queenie and I experienced warm hospitality in Garden Hill. We met Ian from the Northern Store who has been a great champion for OLI. We were really impressed to see the huge OLI fundraising thermometer on display outside the store. We finally met Susan Wood and Cathy Monias with whom OLI has been planning since last year and over the summer. Principal Ernie McDougall and the teachers were accommodating and enthusiastic, jumping in in many ways to support the youth during the beginning stage of this new endeavor – including signing up as Volunteers and dancing with the students.


Queenie and I can hardly wait for our next trip to Garden Hill on December 1st.

Queenie enjoying boat taxi ride


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STP Youth Take it to the Next Level
October 27th, 2014

OLI visited STP for Trip #2 from Monday October 20th until Thursday October 24th. When we arrived, high school students and staff were engaged in preparing and cooking moose meat meals around group fires. That evening we were in the Middle Years gym for the first rehearsal. Nino rehearsed the two original numbers – Maroon 5 and Usher with the high school youth. At rehearsals over the next two days, students learned choreography in two very different styles for two new songs. OLI introduced the attendance and academic policy that was set by the teachers. OLI walked students through a “mock assessment” of ten volunteers so that everyone would understand both the procedure and the performance rating scale. The first assessment of choreography will take place during the next trip on November 24th. Youth are strongly encouraged to rehearse daily in order to feel prepared and confident for their first small group performances and assessments.


At the Middle Years rehearsals, grade 7 and 8s learned new choreography in addition to running through their first song. With only engaged dancers on the participant list, there are currently 88 Middle Years youth taking an active part in OLI. These students are also using posted teaching videos to learn and refine their moves in preparation for their first assessment next trip.

Chris and STP youth preparing moose snacks

Chris and STP youth preparing moose snacks

High School Youth rehearsing

High School Youth rehearsing

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OLI Launches New Season in St. Theresa Point, MB
October 17th, 2014

With the school year well underway, OLI is again excited to be working with students, school and band staff, parents and volunteers who are about to embark on a powerful journey with Outside Looking In.


We will unfold this year’s participating communities one at a time over the next few months, highlighting the great things that are happening in each First Nation.

First stop – Saint Theresa Point First Nation. This remote community of over 3000 Oji-Cree people is located on the southwestern shore of Island lake in northern Manitoba. When asked to describe St. Theresa Point youth, High School Principal Raymond Flett said: Our youth have raw talent. They are highly motivated and are always actively seeking creativity. Most of all they are respectful to others and to the task that they face.


Raymond’s characterization of the youth was confirmed on September 15, 2014, when OLI Founder and CEO Tracee Smith, Choreographer Nino Vicente, and Program Manager Maureen Hatherley travelled to STP for the program Launch. For four days, we had the privilege of working with motivated students and school staff.


The OLI experience is largely a process of self-selection that begins at the Launch. Students are invited to make the decision to leave the comfort and security of walls and bleachers and join their peers to follow the lead of their dedicated choreographer out on the dance floor. In STP, both school gyms were filled with students opting to take these first steps. The high school students danced twice a day – afternoons and evenings. They filled the gym with their “raw talent”, demonstrating amazing focus and engagement to learn two Hip Hop dances in short order. The Middle Years students filled their gym with “raw energy”, demonstrating both commitment and enthusiasm during daily rehearsals. There was also awesome representation at every rehearsal from teachers at both schools.


Dance is not a new passion for STP. Many community members – young and old alike, love to dance and showcase their talent at the annual Bannock Festival’s Big Bounce. OLI looks forward to feeding this passion with energizing workouts, top notch choreography, new Hip Hop moves, teamwork, and the promise of a big stage and a huge audience for those who choose to meet the challenge, all as part of this year’s school curriculum.


OLI returns to STP October 20th for four more intense days of Dance and Planning.IMG_1554

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OLI and THCF Partnership provides life-changing experiences
May 28th, 2014


Twenty-three youth and seven chaperones from Outside Looking In had the pleasure of spending twelve days at Onondaga Farms in May in preparation for their performances on stage at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto. Outside Looking In inspires Indigenous youth to pursue education, engage in self-expression, and celebrate empowerment through the transformative power of Dance. The Tim Horton Children’s Foundation partners with OLI to provide a safe, comfortable environment for youth while supporting participation in Foundation programming designed to instill valuable leadership and life skills. Together, these organizations provide powerful life-changing experiences for youth.

While at Onondaga Farms this May, youth from four First Nations communities – Sandy Lake First Nation, Lac La Croix First Nation, Pikangikum First Nation, and Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve undertook a challenging schedule of rehearsals, school work, activities, and outings. Mornings were spent rehearsing with the whole group in the barn – which THCF has converted to a dance studio with a hardwood floor and mirrors. Afternoons involved more rehearsing for the Future Leaders group and credit course work in a classroom setting for the others. Evenings were dedicated to more rehearsals and Foundation programming.

Dance is a physically demanding art of self-expression and as such, nutritious meals and snacks were much appreciated. Sharing food together during family style meals was a definite highlight for the group and gave the youth a chance to visit and get to know one another. OLI youth were quick to volunteer for the position of Kitchen Person and really took to the responsibilities of caring for and serving others.

The THCF staff embraced and showed genuine interest in the OLI youth and their goals for the stay. Many of the youth had never been away from their homes on remote reserves and had to adjust to life in the bunkhouses and a barrage of new challenges and expectations in a very different environment. The physical space of the farm itself provided not only learning opportunities but a tranquil backdrop of gentle sunrises, birdsong, walking trails, wetlands, farm animals, sudden downpours, wide open fields, and emerging leaves and flowers. It was very evident that the entire THCF staff – the grounds crew, program staff, cleaning and kitchen staff, bus drivers, office and camp staff all take pride in the Foundation and work to make Onondaga Farms a welcoming place.

This year’s OLI stay at Onondaga Farms reinforced the notion that engaging young people through challenging experiences that require both personal resolve and collaborative teamwork in a safe inclusive environment sets the stage for remarkable accomplishments, skill development, and personal growth. The tangible outcomes of this year’s stay could be seen in the smiles on stage as the youth realized personal “bests” and outstanding performances and at the camp, as the youth returned “home” to share their experiences with their new friends and supporters. More intriguing to ponder are the more enduring outcomes of the OLI/THCF partnership – the seeds of empowerment, responsibility, and leadership experiences that have been firmly planted but might not fully come to fruition for months or years to come.

Maureen Hatherley
May 2014

THCF staff ropes mentor up in preparation for climb

THCF staff ropes mentor up in preparation for climb

Future Leaders and Mentors support each other on Mentor Day

Future Leaders and Mentors support each other on Mentor Day

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Outside Looking In Announces New Partnership with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities
April 29th, 2014

CT Logo
For Immediate Release
Outside Looking In Announces New Partnership with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities

New pilot project to increase number of dance workshops and supplies for Indigenous youth
Toronto—April 30, 2014 — Today, Outside Looking In (OLI) announced a new partnership with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, which will help even more kids participate in its national high school accredited program that gives youth the chance to engage in long-term intensive education through dance. This partnership will allow OLI to increase the number of dance workshops and supplies it offers to Indigenous youth.
“We are truly excited to be partnering with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities to enhance and improve upon our program model,” said Tracee Smith, Founder and CEO at Outside Looking In. “At OLI, we continue to lead in Indigenous youth education and engagement at the national level. We all know that to reach youth, you have to work one-to-one, on the ground with each youth. That is what we do and we plan on building on to our strong track record to reach more youth, with the help of this new partnership.”
Canadian Tire Jumpstart is a nationally registered charity dedicated to removing financial barriers so kids across Canada have the opportunity to get off the sidelines and into the game. Jumpstart helps kids between the ages of four to 18 by assisting with the costs associated with registration, equipment and/or transportation for sports and physical activity programming.
“Participation in organized physical activity offers many benefits for kids that will improve their chance for success in life,” said Marc Wolvin, Regional Manager Eastern and Northern Ontario, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. “Kids who get the chance to participate develop a sense of belonging to the community, they make friends, they develop life skills like confidence and teamwork, and they learn to live healthy active lives.”
Thousands of Indigenous youth have already benefited from the Outside Looking In program, a high-school accredited dance program for Grades seven to 12, offered to Indigenous communities and organizations across Canada. This new partnership will allow for an increase in workshops being provided to Indigenous youth, and help pay for supplies like dance shoes and costumes for those who make it to perform in Toronto.

Founded in 2007, Outside Looking In is nationally registered charity that offers a high school accredited program providing the opportunity to Indigenous youth and their communities to engage in long-term intensive education through dance. Should youth fulfill the academic and attendance requirements of the program, youth get the opportunity to join other Indigenous youth from across Canada for two weeks in Toronto, preparing for an ultimate performance on stage to show off their talents and abilities before hundreds in a downtown Toronto theatre.

Outside Looking In is also supported by: Tim Hortons Corp., Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, TD Bank Financial Group, RBC Foundation, ScotiaBank, Rio Tinto, Wasaya Airways, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation. For more information, go to

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities is a nationally registered charity dedicated to providing kids from disadvantaged families with the opportunity to experience the benefits of organized sport and recreation. With an extensive, national network of more than 330 local Chapters, Jumpstart helps kids in communities across Canada by covering the costs associated with registration, equipment and/or transportation.

Supported by the Canadian Tire Family of Companies, which includes Canadian Tire Retail, PartSource, Gas+, Sport Chek, Atmosphere, National Sports, Sports Experts, Mark’s and Canadian Tire Financial Services, Jumpstart has enabled more than 700,000 Canadian kids and counting to get in the game since 2005. For more information or to lend your support, visit

For more information, press only:
Tracee Smith
Outside Looking In

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