SAY is pleased to introduce you to the second youth leader in our Community Smoke-Free Champion series as part of our partnership with the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA). Saije Catcheway (pictured on the right) is a star defence player with the Junior Women’s Hockey League (JWHL) championship team, the Balmoral Hall Blazers. The Blazers are only the second Canadian team to ever win the JWHL championship. Catcheway is from Skownan First Nation in Manitoba, Canada, and has been attending Balmoral Hall School since kindergarten on a “Girls of Promise” scholarship. Catcheway explained how she stays away from cigarettes and vaping to help achieve her hockey goals.

SAY: Do you smoke or vape?
Catcheway: I choose not to smoke or use e-cigarettes for my overall health and to stay focused on my hockey career. Smoking or vaping could be a distraction from training and I want to be 100 per cent focused.

SAY: Is there a difference between smoking or vaping?
Catcheway: Recently, smoking has been frowned upon on social media and (many) teenagers are highly influenced by what they see and read on social media. But since e-cigarettes came into play, and since they’re colourful and look cool, that’s what I think has triggered the obsession with vaping for many young people.

SAY: Why do you think youth start vaping?
Catcheway: I think a lot of youth start vaping just to feel part of a clique. But they need to be bigger than that. They need to realize if they don’t want to, they can focus on something else, like sports, art or music, and just stick to that. I think it’s important to find something you’re passionate about that keeps you busy.

SAY: What keeps you from smoking or vaping?
Catcheway: At my level of hockey, scouts and coaches don’t want to see their prospects drinking or smoking or vaping. That’s always in the back of my head. There are eyes watching me all the time, especially on social media, and that really influences me to say no. I know vaping hinders my lungs and cardiovascular endurance, and that’s huge for hockey. I know that saying no to smoking and e-cigarettes will be most beneficial for me.

SAY: What is the hardest part about saying no to smoking or vaping?
Catcheway: It’s especially hard when you’re out with a bunch of people and two or three have e-cigarettes and people are trying them and having a good time and it doesn’t seem harmful. They’ll say, “Try it.” That’s the hardest to say no to. When you’re with a group of friends, you’re not always thinking of university or that coaches may see what you’re doing on social media. But I make a point to re-check myself and focus on what’s more important. And for me, that’s hockey, school and my health.

MANTRA wants to hear from you! For a chance to be featured as the next Community Smoke-Free Champion, send in your story—explain why you don’t smoke or vape, or how you quit. Contact MANTRA at

The Community Smoke-Free Champion series is an initiative of the Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA). Its mission is to act as a catalyst, educator and coordinator for tobacco reduction activities in Manitoba. Visit for more information and check out MANTRA’s online peer support group, The Quit Crowd, on Facebook.