Kwanlin Dün's baseball diamond to get makeover after Blue Jays charity donates thousands

The First Nation is getting $53,505 from the Jays Care Foundation for new fencing, bleachers, and other improvements to its diamond in Whitehorse.

'We really want to see our kids playing baseball in our community,' says the First Nation's executive director

Kwanlin Dün members in Whitehorse cheer on Tuesday after hearing an announcement that the Jays Care Foundation will pay for upgrades to their local baseball diamond. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Yukon's Kwanlin Dün First Nation is getting ready to build its "field of dreams" after winning a substantial grant of money from the Toronto Blue Jays' charity.

"What it means is, we're going to have a refurbished ball diamond here at Kwanlin Dün," said Roxanne Vallevand, the First Nation's executive director.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon, by the Jays Care Foundation. A total of more than $1.4 million was given to 16 community organizations across the country. Kwanlin Dün is the only one in the North.

'What we've really been lacking is a field that is useable,' said Roxanne Vallevand of the First Nation. (CBC)

Vallevand said the First Nation applied for the grant last year, and asked for close to $99,000. Initially, she thought they were getting the full amount, but the charity later confirmed the grant is worth $53,505.

Fence, bleachers, pitching machine

There is already a ball diamond in the First Nation's McIntyre subdivision in Whitehorse, but it's in rough shape.

Vallevand said the grant money will pay for a "a complete new surface, up to Softball Yukon standards."

The money will also cover new fencing, a backstop overhang, bleachers, a batting cage, pitching machine, and two portable toilets.  

The ball diamond in Whitehorse's McIntyre subdivision, still waiting for the season opener.

"We really want to see our kids playing baseball in our community," Vallevand said. "What we've really been lacking is a field that is useable."

The First Nation asked for additional money for lighting, but didn't get that. 

The First Nation's Chief Doris Bill said the project was really "youth-driven," and in putting together the application, the community was encouraged to "dream big."

"We're going to build, really, our field of dreams. And really that's what it's all about," Bill said.

Bill also said the facility won't just be for First Nation members — she hopes to see teams come from all over to play there.

"Let's get together as a community in the spirit of reconciliation. And that's what this is all about."

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said the First Nation believed it received a $99,000 grant. The Jays Care Foundation later clarified that the grant is worth $53,505.
    Apr 18, 2018 4:13 PM CT

With files from Dave Croft