Saskatchewan has a thriving community of Indigenous athletes who compete across the country and around the globe.
Throughout June, which is recognized as National Indigenous History Month in Canada, Sask Sport will be recognizing the rich sport history and athletic achievements of Indigenous Peoples across the province.
Follow along with us every Wednesday in June for articles, resources, and information that celebrate Indigenous History Month through the eyes of sport.
Sask Sport and its partner organizations assist in the delivery of several programs designed to encourage Indigenous participation in sport throughout the year. These programs include the Indigenous Coaches and Officials Program, Indigenous Community Sport Development Grant Program, Indigenous Sport Enhancement Program, Indigenous Sport Leadership Council, Team Saskatchewan travel to the North American Indigenous Games, the Tribal Council and First Nations Coordinator Program and the Aboriginal Apprentice Coach Program.
For the past 16 years the Indigenous Coaches and Officials Program (ICOP) has helped provide training and development opportunities across Saskatchewan for Indigenous Peoples to become engaged more involved in sport as a coach or an official. The program was launched in 2007 and intended to run only until 2009, but became a permanent fixture due to the ongoing demand for training. ICOP participants take part in NCCP Community Sport, Competition and Instruction modules, Aboriginal Coaching Modules, NCCP sport-specific clinics and officials clinics. Today the program remains available free of charge and, as of June 2022, over 7,800 coaches and officials had participated. The program believes that every athlete deserves a quality trained coach.
The Indigenous Community Sport Development Grant Program aims to provide greater sport participation opportunities for Indigenous youth in Saskatchewan, by supporting development and implementation of community sport programs. Eligible communities can access the grant program, which receives additional funding from Sport Canada Aboriginal Participation and the Sask Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation. This program is delivered in partnership with the Districts for Sport, Culture and Recreation. To find out more please connect with your local District.
The Indigenous Sport Enhancement Program is committed to helping raise the performance level of Indigenous athletes in sport and increasing the capacity of Indigenous coaches, officials and volunteers. The program is aimed at developing and preparing athletes for major competitions and multi-sport games, with a focus on the North American Indigenous Games. It is also designed to support year-round, high-intensity individual and sport-specific training programs devoted to skill and fitness development and competition-specific training. Delivered in partnership with Provincial Sport Organizations and Indigenous leaders the program sees more than 3,500 athletes participate in a variety of sport development opportunities.
This volunteer-driven, 12-member committee provides advice and assists the Sask Sport Board of Directors with strategic direction regarding Indigenous engagement and participation in sport throughout Saskatchewan. The council is supported by Sask Sport in partnership with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and Métis Nation Saskatchewan.
Team Saskatchewan North American Indigenous Games support
In the words of the inaugural event’s chairperson, Charles Wood, the North American Indigenous Games were founded to provide a place where “young Aboriginal people could come together to excel in their athletic field of endeavour and to come together to do other things: to make new friendships, to renew old ones, and so on.” The first Games were held at Edmonton in 1990, with this year’s event — the 10th in NAIG’s history — scheduled for July 15-23 in Nova Scotia. Host communities include Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Dartmouth and Millbrook First Nation. Saskatchewan has hosted NAIG twice, at Prince Albert in 1993 and Regina in 2014, and has won the overall medal count six times through NAIG’s first nine events.
The Tribal Council and First Nations Sport, Culture and Recreation Coordinator Program supports grassroots development and quality of life in 74 First Nations communities by increasing access to and participation in sport, culture and recreation activities. It also supports team development for the Tony Cote Summer and Winter Games — annually supporting the participation of approximately 3,500 athletes, coaches and volunteers.
The Aboriginal Apprentice Coach Program is a partnership between the Aboriginal Sport Circle, the Provincial/Territorial Coaching Representatives, the Canada Games Council and the Coaching Association of Canada. The program provides the opportunity for each province and territory to send two coaches of Indigenous ancestry to the Canada Games in apprenticeship roles. The program provides an opportunity for the apprentices to gain new skills, as well as bring value and additional perspective to the sports and teams they are a part of.