Organized Sports: The Benefits for Your Child’s Present and Future

Parents of children know the importance of group activities and organized sports for building self esteem and providing social and interpersonal benefits. Our own childhood memories of youth sports can influence the decisions we make when we consider which sport to sign our kids up for. Remember, just because you were a hockey goalie doesn’t mean your child will follow suit. It’s important to consider your child’s personality and how they will best fit in.

More assertive children may prefer the group atmosphere of being on a team and feel more comfortable playing soccer or hockey. On the other hand, more reserved children might prefer the independence of solo sports like track and field where they can go at their own pace.

While team sports provide a number of benefits, individual sports build self-reliance and internal drive. As a result, there are positives for each option; so whether your child plays for the baseball team or swims on the swim team, sports will likely help foster their independence, confidence and a myriad of other positive social skills.

I often compare the lessons learned from taking part in youth sports to the lifelong habits a child will retain as an adult in the workplace. Even if your child isn’t destined to become an NHL player or an Olympic athlete, you as their parent will still have helped them cultivate their success in the future through participation in sports.

Once a child finds a sport they like, encourage them to stick with it. This will teach them responsibility and show them that it takes hard work and dedication to achieve their goals. (a great lesson that can be applied to the workplace, too). Also, taking part in competitive sports requires an ability to handle disappointments and accept personal responsibility for any mistakes.

Think about a time when you overlooked an important task. It can take a while for children (and even grown adults) to accept failure and learn not to blame others when things go array. Participating in organized sports as a child can teach important lessons about the value of using setbacks as learning opportunities.

Social skills and teamwork are also important to a child’s future in the corporate world. Sports such as basketball, baseball or hockey can teach kids to rely on others to achieve a common goal and put the team’s needs before their own. Social skills are also developed through youth sports and are invaluable to landing a job interview and communicating with co-workers, management and customers.

Lastly, signing your child up for an organized sport gives them a healthy habit of physical activity. From daily workouts to being outside in the fresh air, participation in sports sees kids right through to adulthood and may help them ward off many ailments. A win-win for everyone.

Caring Dads Program Established to Bring Change to Domestic Violence

Founded in 2001, Caring Dads is an intervention-based program dedicated to improving the lives of children in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. It is a cause I’ve been personally very proud to support. Caring Dads exists to change current practices to better include fathers in efforts to enhance the safety and well-being of their children.

The program’s main focus is aimed to bring positive change for men who have been abused, neglected, or exposed their children to domestic violence.

More often than not, child protection agencies and family mental health services tend to work primarily with mothers; a trend that is intensified when fathers are deemed to be high risk. Despite the importance of the role of fathers in families, this means that those fathers who most need to be monitored and helped by our intervention systems are not involved.

According to facts by Caring Dads, men’s children pay the price with higher rates of aggression, substance use, criminal involvement, suicide attempts, mental health problems and chronic health conditions.

Children at risk should never have to be raised in a violent environment. The Caring Dads intervention program guides fathers to positive change by investigating their situation as soon as possible. When fathers are positively involved with their families, children benefit cognitively, socially, emotionally and developmentally.

As part of the 17 week program, men have the opportunity to meet with an accredited Caring Dads facilitator to learn how to rebuild trust in their families, recognize unhealthy behaviors and what effect abuse has on children. The program gives these men the chance to talk about their own experiences, and equips them with the tools they need in terms of support to be better parents.

There are many advantages to including fathers in efforts to enhance the safety and well-being of their children, including the potential to improve father-child relationships and to offer an additional route to ending violence against women, among other areas.

Anyone who is interested in helping can become an Accredited Caring Dads Facilitator by attending a Facilitator Training event. These events are held monthly in various locations across Canada and costs vary according to location and accreditation.

The services being provided through Caring Dads and similar organizations are making a genuine impact on our youth and their families. Visit for more information on how you can get involved.

The Heroes Gala – In Support of Right to Play

Together with the Right to Play organizing committee and the Right To Play Canadian Advisory Board, we raised a total of $2.6 million last night to protect, educate and empower some of the world’s most vulnerable children. The dollars raised will create a huge impact on the children of Right to Play programs, from Canada’s indigenous communities to rural villages outside of Canada. This year’s honourees included: Dean Connor (CEO, Sunlife, Corporate Hero Award), Pascal Siakam (Power Forward, Raptors, NBA 2019 Champions, Athlete Hero Award), Ralph Lean (18-Year Chairman for RTP, Founding Chairman Award), Danny Charles (Youth Hero Award).

National Bank has been a proud partner of Right to Play for over 3 years. At last year’s Heroes Gala, Louis Vachon was awarded the Corporate Hero Award. This spring, the bank had announced a $300,000 donation to the organization in support of the Aboriginal Youth PLAY Program. Together, we rise.

NBC Table 1, from Left to Right: Ihor Danyliuk, Jeff Clap, Sean St. John, Michael Levin, John Di Libero, Brian Stemle, Rene Cayouette, Jason Ellefson

NBC Table 2, not in photo: James Feehely, Ralph Barcan, Kevin Lind, Chris Dale, Peter Hepburn, Yves Locas, Steve Fleckenstein, Noel Heavey, Alex Lemieux, Marjorie Nadeau

Learn more about Right to Play here:










Help Connected North; support the Tech4Good Hockey Tournament on April 27th

On April 27th, I’ll be joining NHL alumni Bryan Trottier along with 300 other players to participate in the Tech4Good hockey tournament at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville.

The hockey tournament is an event that requires each team to raise money to earn their place in a “draft” of NHL alumni to join them on the ice.

The proceeds from the event benefit Connected North, a program which uses video technology to deliver education and mental health and wellness services, otherwise not available locally, to students in remote northern communities in Canada.

Bryan Trottier and I first connected back in 2011 at the Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer event. As a seven-time Stanley Cup Champion, Bryan knows a thing or two about hockey, so it’s an honor to take part in the Tech4Good hockey tournament with him.

Together as team Captains, we will rally friends and colleagues in support of Connected North and to raise awareness for the charity.

The Connected North program is especially important to Bryan. Known as Canada’s most decorated Indigenous athlete, he spends his time traveling to Indigenous communities to teach kids about their heritage and lessons in leadership development.

Other NHL alumni participating in this year’s Tech4Good event include: Brad May, Rick Vaive, Tom Fergus, Ric Nattress, Gary Leeman and Nik Antropov. It’s an all-around good time, and for hockey fans who want to come out and watch the tournament, they can enter at the door with a $5 donation.

Last year, we raised over $300,000 for Connected North, and this year, with your help, we hope to raise even more. Please come out and support us!

Why Connected North Deserves Our Support

Connected North changes lives through technology. The non-profit organization uses high definition video to connect children in isolated northern communities. Technology can help bridge the gap between teacher and student, allowing those in remote areas to gain access to essential educational resources and learning opportunities.

Connected North works with content providers, funders, and community partners who help deliver immersive and interactive youth engagement and education to Indigenous students across the country.

Cisco Canada, the Toronto-headquartered tech company that launched Connected North, provides the video technology. Besides the basics of education, the goal is to help Indigenous students improve their language skills, as well as share histories and stories with other communities, and provide mental health support.

The program has been recognized by the International Society for Technology in Education, with Mali Bickley, on behalf of Connected North, awarded for outstanding contributions to video conferencing in education. Bickley has been a key member of Connected North as a Classroom Collaboration Specialist since September 2015. Bickley creates customized and authentic learning opportunities for Connected North students and teachers, including a mentoring session with Canadian WNBA player Kayla Alexander and students in Nunavut.

Participating Connected North schools include the Innuhaq School in Arctic Bay, Ontario, the Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary School in Skidegate, BC, the Ghuch Ria Community School in Carcross, Yukon and the Deh Gah School in Fort Providence, NWT.

The Connected North network serves around 10,000 students across 42 schools in all three territories and five provinces. But many more northern schools are interested in getting involved. That’s where we can help.

Last year, I became involved in the Tech4Good Connected North On-Ice Challenge, a one-day hockey tournament where participating teams earn funds to participate in a “draft” of former NHL players, who then join their team.

Bryan Trottier, Canada’s most decorated Indigenous athlete, was the first former NHL player to sign up. Of Metis heritage, Trottier recognized the importance and potential for Connected North. And when he heard that we needed to attract teams, he called me. Now, Bryan and me go back a few years. We first met at the Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer event in 2011 and we share a passion for hockey. So I didn’t have to think twice when Bryan called asking for my participation.

Working with others on my team, we raised $16,700 for a cause that generated more than $300,000 for Connected North. Plans are already underway for another tournament in 2019. I’m impressed by the work done at Connected North and proud to support them.

How Positive Thinking Has Changed My Life

Although it has become something of a cliché, I staunchly believe in the power of positive
thinking. As a business leader who has spent more than two decades with National Bank, I have
come to realize how important recognition is and, at the same time, how invaluable
encouragement and positive reinforcement can be. Negativity does not work.

They are also excellent tools to help manage people, and in my charitable endeavors, to
support teams and individuals contributing their valuable time. In addition, a positive attitude
can create encouraging results, both in corporations and at charity events.

Brian Tracy — a widely acclaimed best-selling author who penned Believe it to Achieve It and
Change Your Thinking Change Your Life — admits that the idea that your mind can change your
world seems too good to be true. But Tracy, who calls the power of positive thinking
“remarkable,” adds that he has personally experienced and has witnessed the good that
focusing on the positive can bring.

Tracy says that healthy, happy people spend their time thinking about what they want and how
to get it.  “In this way, developing a positive attitude can truly change your entire life,” Tracy says on his

For myself, success in my responsibilities at National Bank has come a mixture of hard work,
dedication and loyalty. But, I also credit what I do outside the office to creating a balanced
framework and state of mind that allows me to succeed in the office.

For example, I chaired the 2018 Right To Play Heroes Gala honouring Louis Vachon (National
Bank’s CEO), while raising a record-breaking $2.8 million for the organization. Charity work and
community participation are a huge part of our culture at National Bank.

On top of that, I’m involved with Scotiabank Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer, which has raised
more than $18 million for research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto since it
was launched in 2011. This particularly cause is very important to me because I am a cancer
survivor who received treatment at the centre.

Charitable giving is about more than just raising money. It’s a way of showing gratitude to your
community. If you believe a cause is worthy of your support, do all you can to provide that

Keeping My Focus on “We”

Of course I am proud of my career, but my greatest accomplishments really come outside the office.

I currently work as the Executive Vice-President, Managing Director, Co-Head of Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities Group at National Bank.

In addition to my responsibilities at work, I try to share my time and energy with the community, in both Toronto-based and national non-profit organizations.

Perhaps my favorite quote will offer some insight into what drives me. In the documentary about Mohammed Ali called When We Were Kings, my favorite scene was when Ali was asked to share a poem with a graduating class.

Ali’s choice–albeit very short–inspires me to this day: “Me? We.” I try to live my life like that, with curiosity, and humility, and a need to keep learning.

For example, this year I co-chaired Right To Play’s The Heroes Gala honoring Louis Vachon (National Bank’s CEO). We raised a record-breaking $2.8 million for the organization this year, a success that I am very proud of.

I’ve also chaired the annual Scotiabank “Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer” event at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto and have been doing that since the event began eight years ago. This year, we raised $2.7 million to support cutting-edge cancer research for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

As a cancer survivor myself, the Princess Margaret Hospital is near and dear to my heart, not just because of the impact the organization makes in the area of cancer treatment and research, but also because it is where I received my own treatment. The experience I had at the Hospital was nothing but positive, and if I can make someone else’s experience going through cancer treatment that much easier, then I want to be part of that.

I will admit that finding the right work-life-charity balance requires intentionality and commitment. I think a lot of people engulf themselves in work, tending to neglect life outside of the office.  But we all know the important aspects of life are family, friends and community.

Taking time to get out there, help others in the community, being involved – are all part of a full life. Success is about connection.