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Celebrating 12 Days of Sport – 2021

Sask Sport is looking back on some of the sport highlights from 2021 and events to look forward to in 2022.

Day 1 – Return of Sport

Kicking off on Day 1 of Sask Sport’s 12 Days of Sport celebration is the return to in-person sport in the province in 2021. 

As a result of COVID-19, sport and sporting events were put on standby, cancelled or postponed in March 2020 and remained that way in large part for the remainder of that year.  

While some sports were able to get back to competition through virtual competitions and some events were able to be held in late 2020, most sport in the province didn’t return until 2021. Sask Sport was excited about that just as much as our members and sport participants across the province. 

From local ball tournaments to the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials. From water skiing to BMX. It was great to see athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers returning to sport. 

Photos by: Art Ward Photography, Bob Holtsman Photography, Electric Umbrella, GetMyPhoto.ca

Day 2 – Saskatchewan at the Olympics and Paralympics

On Day 2, Sask Sport is cheering on the 33 Saskatchewan athletes, coaches, officials and support staff who attended the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics —including two bronze medallists— as well as the individuals working toward Beijing 2022.

The Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics may have been postponed from 2020 to 2021, but that didn’t stop Saskatchewan athletes, coaches, officials and support staff from shining on sport’s grandest stage. 

A total of 13 individuals with ties to Saskatchewan attended the Olympic Games from July 23 to August 8. And at the Paralympic Games from August 24 to September 5, Saskatchewan was represented by 20 individuals, the largest contingent in the province’s history. 

Saskatchewan athletes picked up two medals at the Games as Jenny Gilbert captured Olympic bronze with the women’s softball team and Keely Shaw earned Canada’s first medal of the Paralympics with a bronze-medal finish in the Para cycling women’s C4 3,000-metre individual pursuit. 

Now attention turns to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing with the Olympics scheduled for February 4-20 and the Paralympics slated for March 4-13. You can follow along the journey’s of Saskatchewan’s athletes, coaches, officials and support staff at cheeronsask.ca. 

Day 3 – Reconciliation Through Sport

It’s Day 3 and Sask Sport wants to recognize some of the ways that reconciliation can happen through sport. 

The Saskatoon Tribal Council, Tourism Saskatoon and Curling Canada partnered in the spirit of reconciliation for the Olympic Curling Trials in Saskatoon (Treaty 6 Territory) November 20-28. During the event’s opening ceremonies, the STC led the grand entry and a blanket ceremony. 

As part of the closing ceremonies, the STC led another blanket ceremony for the winning teams, Jennifer Jones and Brad Gushue, who will be representing Canada at the Olympics. Once they get to the Olympics, those teams will be wearing uniforms that will include designs by two-spirit Anishinaabe artist Patrick Hunter.

Credit: Curling Canada/ Michael Burns Photo

Sticking with curling and Indigenous artwork, during the Player’s Championship in April, Team Brendan Bottcher used a broom with a unique design created by Greyden Yee Louison of Kahakewistaw First Nation. The Indigenous Culture brooms were part of Goldline Curling Supplies “United We Curl” campaign. 

Meanwhile, Sask Sport continues to seek advice and guidance from the Indigenous Sport Leadership Council (ISLC) on Indigenous Sport Development in the province, as they’ve done since the early 2000’s. The 12-person volunteer-led council continues to work with Sask Sport to ensure that sport development plans prioritize and align with important recommendations that have been presented in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Calls to Action No. 87-91 and the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples.  

One of the many great things the partnership has led to is the creation of the Indigenous Sport Timeline, which celebrates the growth on Indigenous sport participation throughout Saskatchewan and is updated on a regular basis. 

Additionally, this year Sask Sport, in collaboration with the ISLC, created Land Acknowledgement statements for use at virtual or in-person events or meeting by the amateur sport community within the province. 

Day 4 – Safe Sport and Concussion Awareness

On Day 4, Sask Sport wants to give a shout out all sport organizations who continue to create Safe Sport environments for participants and continue education on how to ensure an athlete’s physical health. 

In 2021, the Respect in Sport Resource Line was renamed the Sask Sport Resource Line. The function remained the same at its core: providing information, bilingual support, resources and referrals for sport in Saskatchewan regarding possible bullying, abuse, harassment, discrimination and hazing. 

Through a partnership with the Respect Group and with the support of the Government of Saskatchewan, Sask Sport has worked with Provincial Sport Organizations (PSOs) since 2012 to deliver mandatory Respect in Sport training —which was updated in 2021— for coaches and activity leaders. The cost of the training is covered for all users, which helps to ensure the creation of a safe, health and fun sport environment. 

This year, September 29 was also proclaimed Concussion Awareness Day by the Government of Saskatchewan. In an effort to further educate all members of the sport sector on how to prevent, recognize and manage concussions, Sask Sport partnered with the Government and the Sport Medicine & Science Council of Saskatchewan to present A Concussion Story: Lessons for Concussion Management.

Day 5 – Creativity in Sport Programming

On Day 5, Sask Sport is giving a high five to KidSport Saskatchewan, Dream Brokers and the Northern Community & School Recreation Coordinator Program for finding ways to be creative and adapt during the pandemic. 

KidSport Saskatchewan and it’s more than 40 chapters in communities across the province found multiple ways to support kids playing sport. Chapters moved their fundraising efforts from in-person activities to online auctions, socially-distanced bottle drives and more. They also found different ways to help keep kids active, like KidSport Regina using a $2,500 grant from the Farm Credit Canada Regina Spirit Fund to provide sport balls for kids in the community. 

Meanwhile, the Dream Broker program reached a milestone in 2021, celebrating 15 years of connecting children and youth from select schools to sport, culture and recreation activities in communities across Saskatchewan. Of course, like many other organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic, threw a wrench into the usual Dream Broker activities, but that didn’t stop Dream Brokers from finding unique ways to connect with participants. By partnering with local businesses, Dream Brokers created activity kits that were distributed on a regular basis to youth in their communities until more regular activities could resume. 

And Northern Community & School Recreation Coordinator Robynn Dorion was able to create a sense of togetherness even while youth in her community of Stanley Mission had to stay isolated and distanced from one another. Utilizing social media, Dorion came up with multiple challenges and activities for participants to get involved in from dance challenges to household scavenger hunts, contests and more, with the rest of the community was even able to get involved by voting for winners. 

Day 6 – Lotteries Funding Recognition

It’s Day 6 and Sask Sport wants to say thanks to Sask Lotteries, the main fundraiser for sport, culture and recreation in Saskatchewan.  There’s many lottery-funded grants that athletes, teams, communities and organizations can access as a result. 

Through Sask Sport, Provincial Sport Organizations (PSOs), can access Sask Lotteries-funded grants and programs that help them expand and enhance sporting opportunities across the province. 

These are just a few of the ways those funds are distributed across the province:  

Learn more about the Sask Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation and the 12,000+ groups that it supports at sasklotteries.ca 

Day 7 – Coach/Athlete Connection

On Day 7, Sask Sport is highlighting the important relationships that can be built between an athlete and their coach. 

At just 19, Pike Lake’s Rylan Wiens achieved a lifetime goal when he earned a spot at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, competing as one of two Canadians in the men’s 10-metre platform event. 

The Olympic experience and journey to get there was made all that more special by the fact that he got to share it with his coach Mary Carroll —a former Olympic diver herself— who has been working with Rylan for over 10 years. 

When the duo returned from Tokyo, the Coaches Association of Saskatchewan and Indigenous Coaches and Officials Program caught up with them for Coaches Week in September to discuss their relationship, which is built on a special bond, trust and communication. 

Watch their full story:

Day 8 – Officials Achievements

It’s Day 8 and Sask Sport wants to applaud Chantal Boudreau and Alex Clark, two homegrown female officials who are making a mark on the international stage and in the history books. 

While she grew up playing soccer, Regina’s Chantal Boudreau didn’t start officiating the sport until she was in university, when she took on the role as a source of income. Now, it’s taken her all over the world, including the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and, most recently, the Olympic pitch at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games. Her stint at the World Cup made her the first FIFA assistant referee to come out of Saskatchewan. 

Meanwhile, over at the rink, Weyburn’s Alex Clarke keeps checking off new accomplishments. Like Boudreau, Clarke had an extensive background playing hockey which, with a little help from a chance meeting at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car, led to her new path as an official. A path that’s taken her right into the history books as she became the first female linesperson to officiate a Western Hockey League game in 2021. Also this year, Clarke officiated at the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Cup, a friendly three-game series between the Canadian and Finnish women’s hockey teams and became one of 10 females to officiate in the AHL. 

Day 9 – Inclusion in Sport

On Day 9 Sask Sport commends the work Provincial Sport Organizations are doing to make their sport more inclusive and accessible for all athletes. 

The Saskatchewan Weightlifting Association (SWA) helped multiple athletes get a taste of their sport in 2021. Scott Glass made history becoming Saskatchewan’s first adaptive athlete to compete in weightlifting, entering events for both SWA and the Canadian Masters of Olympic Weightlifting. 

SWA is also working with Autism Services of Saskatoon to create opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum to try the sport in a comfortable environment. 

Newcomers to Canada and Saskatchewan are also getting the chance to participate in sports that weren’t previously available to them. Roshan Heisat and Anas Al Krissat as well as their three children moved from Jordan to Saskatoon in July. Now the family is involved with Saskatoon’s Lions Speed Skating Club, which has helped the kids to create new friendships. 

Day 10 – Young Leadership

It’s Day 10 and Sask Sport is saluting young individuals in Saskatchewan, like Kaia Thauberger, who are taking on leadership roles to help create sport opportunities in the province. 

In 2021, KidSport Saskatchewan welcomed it’s 41st local chapter, with Lumsden and the surrounding area, thanks to the efforts of 17-year-old Kaia Thauberger. 

Through her own involvement in sport, Thauberger knows the benefits it can provide to youth and wanted to make it So U Kids Can Play! in her local community. In the summer, Thauberger kickstarted the chapter by hosting a Golf-A-Thon called Rounds for Ralph (in honour of her late grandfather) that raised $12,700 to get KidSport Lumsden up and running.

Day 11 – Order of Sport

On Day 11 and the last day of 2021, Sask Sport says congratulations to Diane Jones Konihowski and Sheldon Kennedy; two individuals with Saskatchewan connections who were inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame this year. 

Diane Jones Konihowski, a three-time Olympic pentathlete who has spent more than 30 years volunteering in a multitude of sport roles was inducted in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2021 as an athlete, while Sheldon Kennedy, a former NHL player and co-founder of Respect Group was inducted as a builder. 

Read their full story and watch the 65th Annual Order of Sport Awards ceremony here. 

Day 12 – Looking forward to more sport in 2022

Happy New Year! 

It’s the final day of Sask Sport’s 12 Days of Sport and with it comes the anticipation and excitement of all the great sporting events coming in 2022, including Sask Sport’s 50th anniversary. 

From international competitions to national and provincial competitions and celebrations along the way, there’s lots for Sask Sport and the Saskatchewan amateur sport community to look forward to in 2022. 

Coming up right away on January 27, Sask Sport will present the 2021 Saskatchewan Sport Awards live on YouTube Premiere. 

From February 4-20, Saskatchewan athletes, coaches, officials and support staff will attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, to be followed by the Paralympics a few weeks later from March 4-13. Also in February, the Saskatchewan Winter Games will take place in Regina as the Saskatchewan Games Council celebrates its 50th anniversary. 

Prince Albert will host the 2022 Esso Cup, also known as Canada’s national Women’s U18 Club Championship, at Art Hauser Centre April 14-23. 

The North American Indigenous Games will be held in Kjipuktuk (Halifax) in 2023 and Team Saskatchewan athletes will be working throughout 2022 to qualify and prepare for the Games. 

So much to look forward to and it’s just getting started. Keep your eye on Sask Sport’s event page for more competitions coming up throughout the year. And watch Sask Sport’s social media as the organization celebrates 50 years of enriching Saskatchewan communities.

Stay up to date on the different sporting events happening in Saskatchewan or involving Team Saskatchewan on the Sask Sport events page.