September 28, 2023

Sun Life expands partnership with Spirit North to address health inequities in underserved Indigenous communities

Sun Life's $1 million commitment over three years supports the growing demand for physical health programming for Indigenous youth in Manitoba and the Yukon.

Sun Life Logo (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Canada)

TORONTO, Sept. 28, 2023 /CNW/ - Sun Life is expanding its existing partnership with Spirit North with a $1 million commitment in funding over three years. This funding will help deliver physical health programs to an estimated 6,000 Indigenous youth in the province of Manitoba and Yukon territory.

"Millions across the country are pre-diabetic or living with type 2 diabetes. Indigenous youth are 25 timesi more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than non-Indigenous youth," said Dave Jones, President, Sun Life Health. "By expanding access to physical activities, we're helping Indigenous youth get active and make health a priority. We hope our partnership will make a real difference for those who may not have access to important community programs."

Spirit North works collaboratively with individual Indigenous communities to co-create and deliver physical activity and land-based programs based on the unique cultures, traditions, languages, and values of each community. Children and youth participate in activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing and shelter-building throughout the school year.

"We are incredibly grateful for this support from Sun Life and the meaningful impact that it will have on our programs and ability to reach and engage Indigenous children and youth across the country," said Beckie Scott, Founder and CEO of Spirit North. "Together with Sun Life, we will ensure some of Canada's most vulnerable and marginalized youth have access to high quality sport and play programs with proven health and wellness outcomes. It is truly a 'win-win' and we couldn't be more happy or proud to be embarking on this important journey together."

Sun Life's existing partnership with Spirit North started in 2021 and has reached more than 1,500 Indigenous youth. 89% of participants surveyed reportedly met or exceeded the recommended daily amount (60 minutes, per WHO guidelines) of physical activity by taking part in these programs, and 100% of participants' parents noted their child's levels of joy and overall wellness improved.

The funding will extend programming to 10 communities in Manitoba and four communities in the Yukon by year three.

As a sustainability-driven organization, Sun Life helps people live healthier lives through proactive and preventative health and wellness programs to build stronger, healthier and more inclusive communities. Learn more about Sun Life's sustainability efforts here.

Sun Life in the community

Sun Life is sustainability-driven, focusing on areas where it can have the greatest impact. By actively supporting the communities in which Sun Life lives and works, the organization can help build a positive environment for Clients, employees, advisors, and shareholders. Physical health and mental health are at the centre of our philanthropic support, with a focus on supporting programs and organizations that strive to empower Canadians to live their healthiest lives no matter where they are in their journey. Sun Life employees and advisors take great pride in volunteering and giving back to make life brighter for individuals and families across Canada.

Learn more about Sun Life in the community.

Spirit North

Spirit North is a national charitable organization that uses land-based activities to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous youth, empowering them to become unstoppable in sport, school and life. Through these connections, children learn, grow, thrive and eventually contribute to the health, strength and vibrancy of their communities.

Working in partnership with schools and communities, Spirit North has delivered programs to over 13,000 Indigenous youth in 101 communities and 181 schools, across BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and the Northwest Territories – and we're just getting started.

For more information, go to

Media relations contacts:

Sun Life
Jolene Sonshine
Director, Corporate Communications
T: 647-406-7763

Spirit North
Meredith Bratland
Director of Communications
T: 780-385-1412


SOURCE Sun Life Financial Canada