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The “eye opening experience” of Aboriginal Coaching Modules

Created with the intention to expand awareness and educate, the Aboriginal Coaching Modules provides resources to individuals that lead Indigenous peoples at any capacity in sport and recreation, making coaching through an Aboriginal lens an accessible skill. The one-day workshop will bring a lifetime of difference to coaches and leaders, positively influencing their ability to impact the lives of others.  

Randi Keshane is the Learning Facilitator for the Saskatchewan branch of the Aboriginal Coaching Modules and asserts the value of the program and the perspective it provides to those that sign up.  

“The Aboriginal Coaching Modules gives perspective to what it’s like being an athlete from a First Nation or Métis community—providing insight to the positive aspects as well as the barriers that come with living in an Indigenous community, especially if its further up North in the province, where registered recreation facilities are very limited.”   

Aboriginal Sport Circle noticed a gap in the education section of coaching awareness and as result, the ACM was established in 2003 to respond to the need for a national coach training curriculum. The ACM was built to reflect Indigenous values, culture and lifestyle. Originally designed with coaches of First Nation, Métis and Inuit heritage in mind, the program later expanded to include non-Indigenous coaches that work with Indigenous peoples or within Indigenous communities.  

According to Keshane, the ACM provides an “eye-opening experience” to the individuals who participate. The program has become a valued presence in the field of Indigenous sport and recreation, changing the experience by educating one coach at a time. A coach that is further educated, aware and open, allows for the participants to feel safe, accepted and encouraged.  

In feedback she has received from participants, Keshane has noted that some are surprised by what things were discussed and shared throughout the workshop and that some hadn’t realized the barriers Indigenous athletes may face. It’s all the more reason why the ACM is a valuable tool for coaches and leaders within the amateur sport community and recreation system. “[ACM] looks at more than just the sport and physical aspects [that affect the] athlete and holistically considers all aspects that an Indigenous athlete may carry with them. It looks at their mental and emotional health, at their family system and encourages coaches to consider what support systems they may have and look at the type of communities they come from, whether it be Indigenous or non-Indigenous.” 

The program is broken into three modules with each section covering a specific theme. ‘Holistic Approach to Coaching’ outlines concepts such as the process of creating a positive coaching environment, ‘Dealing with Racism in Sport’ addresses issues of racism in sport and ‘Individual and Community Health and Wellness’ introduces health situations and challenges that Indigenous people may face in their community. Coaches and leaders of Indigenous peoples in sport and recreation will leave the program with valuable skills and knowledge in the various areas. 

Keshane hopes the future of the course includes making ACM mandatory for all coaches and officials coming within the Coaching Association of Canada programs. The Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association has made the ACM a mandatory program for all high school coaches within the province, aiming to educate and train over 5000 coaches by 2027. 

The ACM course is currently not mandated by the province, but steps are being made to bring this invaluable course to more individuals within the sporting community. It has the opportunity to change the experience of sport and recreation for everyone who participates.  

Although the actual course only lasts a day, the impact of being a part of the program will continue to influence the life of those that took part directly and the participants they will lead moving forward.  

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