Josh Sacobie has achieved a lot as a football player and would like to accomplish even more away from the sports field.

Sacobie was quarterback of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees from 2004 to 2008. During his time with the Gee-Gees, Sacobie set numerous passing records and was a perennial all-star.

More impressive than the stats is his commitment to give back to the Aboriginal community. Sacobie is originally from Fredericton, N.B., and is a member of the Maliseet First Nation.

“There is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done,” explained Sacobie. “It is unacceptable that many Aboriginal communities live in Third World conditions in a First World country. I have the opportunity to share my struggles, but also to talk about my successes.”

In the summers of 2007 and 2008, Sacobie put his principles into action. He worked with the Cree Nation of Mistissini in northern Quebec. The community is located about 1,100 kilometres northeast of Ottawa.

“My first summer there, I helped establish a football camp. It was great bringing football to a community that had never played it,” he said. “For my second summer, I worked as a child-care worker. I spent most of my time just listening. Many children simply need someone they can talk to about their situation.”

There is one experience Sacobie will never forget from Mistissini. “I had a chance to go on an adventure trip with youth and elders. We went to an isolated area where elders passed on the Cree traditions to the youth. It was amazing to be in a place totally peaceful.”

This summer, Sacobie is again active with Aboriginal youth, working with an initiative called Gen 7.

“The purpose of the program is to bring a positive message to Aboriginal youth,” Sacobie said. “We believe in doing follow-up in every community visited. For instance, I have had three sessions with youth at the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre in Kingston, Ont. It is good for the young people to see you are committed to working with them.”

Even though Sacobie holds a degree from the University of Ottawa, it is unlikely he will hold an office job in the future. “The thought of nine-to-five scares me. My passion will always be working with Aboriginal people. That is how I feel I can make a positive contribution.”

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