Toronto Blue Jays to build baseball diamond for First Nations school in northern Ontario

The Jays Care Foundation has donated $150,000 to Pelican Falls First Nations High School, near Sioux Lookout, Ont.

The Jays Care Foundation has donated $150,000 to Pelican Falls First Nations High School

Manitoba MLA Wab Kinew, left, Jays Care Foundation executive director Robert Witchel, centre, and Pelican Falls First Nations High School teacher Shawn Hordy hold a cheque for $150,000 presented by the foundation to the school. The money will pay for a new baseball diamond for students. (Jays Care Foundation)

The Toronto Blue Jays' children's charity is building a new baseball diamond for a school near Sioux Lookout, Ont.

The Jays Care Foundation presented a cheque for $150,000 to Pelican Falls First Nations High School this past weekend at a baseball tournament in Manitoba for Indigenous youth. 

The school's First Nations student success coordinator told CBC it's amazing to be able to build something that will give the students pride.

"The field that we have right now has really poor drainage, so it's always sopping wet with water and we're not really able to use it that often," Graham Coughlin said.

"The kids are still out there playing anyway, but they always kind of have sopping wet feet."

Pelican Falls is a boarding school that serves students from remote First Nations as young as 14, Coughlin said.

"They're leaving home. They're staying at school. So we want to give them as much as possible," he said. "We want to make it the best environment — give them as many things as we can to do to keep them busy, keep them occupied, out of trouble"

Students are excited to be getting money from the Jays' foundation, Coughlin added, which aims to create social change through baseball. 

"We're pretty far north, and I think sometimes it can feel like southern Ontario might sometimes forget about you, so it's really nice for the kids to see that a big organization, a sports team like the Toronto Blue Jays, is willing to invest such a big chunk of money in them," he said. 

Coughlin said he hopes the new diamond will be finished for the start of the 2017 school year.