Enhanced connection, collaboration, outreach and conversation are the foundation and key components to Sask Sport’s work with the Indigenous Sport Leadership Council (ISLC).
Since the early 2000s, the ISLC has been an invaluable resource for advice and recommendations to Sask Sport for Indigenous sport development throughout the province. The council also helps provide guidance and insight on Sask Lotteries Trust Fund allocations to organizations to support projects to meet the needs of Indigenous Peoples participation in sport.
“This position allows us to work as a team of volunteer leaders who play a key role in helping Sask Sport collaborate with Indigenous people at the local level to support grassroots initiatives that are strengthening communities across the province,” said Audra Young, chair of the ISLC. “These leaders have a vested interest in advancing Indigenous participation in sport and truly believe in the role that sport can play to build better communities.”
The 12-person ISLC 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. The work has helped bring awareness to significant accomplishments that have impacted the evolution of Indigenous athlete, coach and community sport development throughout the province.
The long list of work is always continuing, growing and developing said Young.
“These leaders have a vested interest in advancing Indigenous participation in sport and truly believe in the role that sport can play to build better communities.”Audra Young, chair of the Indigenous Sport Leadership Council
In late 2019, ISLC worked with Sask Sport to launch an Indigenous Sport Timeline that celebrates program and funding growth, greater sport participation, role model achievements and success stories. The group is also partnering with the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Team Sask Steering Committee, Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and researchers from the University of Saskatchewan to celebrate the rich culture and history of Team Saskatchewan’s success at the multi-sport international event.
Funding for athlete development and for NAIG, the Tony Cote First Nations Summer and Winter Games, as well as the Aboriginal Hockey Championship has also been a priority for the ISLC and Sask Sport. Investments through both the Federal Provincial/Territorial Bilateral agreement and the Sask Lotteries Trust Fund’s Community Sport Grant have helped create and enhance initiatives to increase participation activities for Indigenous athletes, coaches, volunteers and leadership.
The Indigenous Coaches and Officials Program has also provided funds to certify and develop more than 3,000 coaches and officials in the province. Sport for development programs for children and youth including Dream Brokers, Jumpstart Afterschool Program, KidSport and the Northern Community & Schools Recreation Coordinator Program have helped to increase accessibility for healthy activities targeting children and youth.
Respecting and ensuring cultural practices are implemented have been an important part of the ISLC’s contribution to the amateur sport community, including having Elders and Knowledge Keepers play a significant role in various Sask Sport activities.
“Indigenous participation is not just a special project for Sask Sport,” said Young. “It is a commitment to utilize a participant-centred approach that works collectively with communities to develop, plan and implement opportunities at the grassroots level. The programs and investments have helped create many opportunities to experience the benefits of sport, which contributes to building a healthier community.”
The stories, contributions, and program development will be celebrated throughout June during National Indigenous History Month. The month is meant to honour the rich history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Follow along each Monday, as Sask Sport proudly renews its ongoing commitment to create enhanced connections and start conversations, as well as appreciates and acknowledges the contributions Indigenous Peoples have made in Saskatchewan.