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Recreation director back in action

Kathleen Lippa
Northern News Services

Baker Lake (July 28/04) - Leo Lareau is walking tall. He returned to directing recreation in Baker Lake after a serious back injury almost ended his recreation career 13 years ago.

"I fell on the ice at the arena and herniated a disk in my back," said Lareau, who is shy about being interviewed.

He said right off the bat he didn't want this to be a "sympathy story."

Recreation is busy this time of the year in the Kivalliq, and judging from the number of activities he already has on the go, it looks like Lareau picked a good time to make his return.

The swimming pool opened July 5. Children's softball is in full swing. And, for the first time ever, the community hosted beach volleyball tournaments for men and women. The men played over the weekend of July 17-18, while the women competed July 10-11.

The beach volleyball, a novelty in the North, is held on a sand court near the Baker Lake airport.

About 100 people have signed up for it.

"People seem to really be enjoying it. It's the first time we did this and it's gone really well," said Lareau.

Lareau has lived in Baker Lake for 25 years, and was always involved in recreation, starting off as the facilities manager at the arena, then moving to the position of recreation co-ordinator.

He later served as hamlet counsellor for six years.

Lareau has also served as a housing board member, and a DEA board member.

When Lareau got hurt, he couldn't walk. But three weeks ago, he walked into the hamlet office to take up his new job as recreation director, a proud moment for him.

"I'm walking not very good, but good enough to get here and do my job," said Lareau.

With Nunavut Day on his plate as soon as he arrived on the job, he got right to it, organizing everything from games to traditional clothing contests.

"I enjoy it. I have always enjoyed being involved in recreation," said Lareau. "I just wanted to see more activities going on. It's something I'm good at."