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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April 17th, 2014

Inez "Indspires"

Inez “Indspires”

At Outside Looking In we provide opportunities that reinforce the belief that if you commit to demanding goals and work hard to achieve them, you will be rewarded with powerful life changing experiences and feelings of personal accomplishment of such magnitude that you will be propelled to look for the next great challenge.

Youth who apply to the OLI Future Leaders program have all experienced firsthand the transformative power of the Performing Arts and are indeed looking to push themselves to the next level. In so doing, they become leaders in the eyes of their peers and community members.

This year, OLI’s 7 Future Leaders, plus one returning OLI alumnus who plans to pursue personal goals in the Arts, were awarded the amazing opportunity to perform live at the Indspire Awards Event in Winnipeg in March. High school graduates Brett Pangowish from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, brothers Alex and Kurri Quill from Pikangikum First Nation, and Lance Geyshick of Lac La Croix First Nation joined high school students Brody Allen, Tye Jourdain, and Cody Ottertail, also of Lac La Croix First Nation, and Chad Fiddler of Sandy Lake First Nation for five days of intense rehearsals preceding the main Indspire event. They responded positively to: dance instruction and direction from Choreographer Tracee Smith; critical scrutiny and feedback from Producer Jen Podemski; and heartfelt leadership and inspiration from Juno-nominated Artist Inez Jasper – all strong Aboriginal leaders in their own rights.

For the first time in our seven-year history, OLI’s dancers were hired as paid “talent” and thereby expected to perform to industry standards regarding punctuality, work ethic, and accountability. The Future Leaders worked alongside dancers from two other companies – Kaiva’s four break dancers from Iqaluit and eight youth from the Aboriginal School of Dance in Winnipeg. It did not take long for the “ice to break” in the rehearsal hall where dancers worked and sweated side by side as they strived to master new choreography. Spending hours in the dressing room together also led to forged friendships and lasting memories of a remarkable shared experience.

The highlight, of course, took place on stage during the closing number. Set on a playground, Inez led the Kaiva dancers as they symbolically broke free from a cage-like structure of imposed constraints on song and dance. Soon the stage and the domed structure itself were swarming with playful and unrestrained youth as they climbed, celebrated, and danced. At one point, the dome pulsed with a living heartbeat while Kaiva drummers produced the rhythm on their hand drums. When all the youth exploded off of the dome and danced with synchronized energy for the final chorus, their conviction was as clear as Inez’s words: “No matter what they say – we’re gonna get together – me, you, dancing on the run!”

There is nothing as powerful as a unified front of inspired youth. The joy, strength, and vibrancy of the performing youth brought a juxtaposition of responses from the Winnipeg audience – wistful tears combined with a ferocity of shouts of appreciation and applause. The television version of the Indspire Awards will be broadcast on May 10th.

To see the Future Leaders perform to Inez’s “On the Run”, be at OLI’s Event and Performance in Toronto on Wednesday May 16th at the Winter Garden Theatre. To purchase tickets, visit the link on our website:


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Sandy Lake January Youth of the Month
March 5th, 2014

Freeborn Fiddler is the Sandy Lake First Nation Youth of the Month for January. Freeborn is a grade 10 student at Thomas Fiddler Memorial High School. He is 16 years old. Freeborn’s interests are music, dancing, and snowboarding. He takes an active role in the Canadian Junior Rangers program. Two of his strengths are math and leadership.


This is Freeborn’s second year in OLI. This year he has taken on the extra challenge of participating in the OLI Future Leaders mentorship program. Freeborn showed great initiative to fundraise his own travel money for this year’s upcoming epic Future Leader experience in Winnipeg. Freeborn has had perfect attendance at school thus far, and is excelling in his school courses and the OLI program.


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