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The Future of Indigenous Sport in Saskatchewan 

In the fall of 2023, the Future Sport Programs were released and have since made strides in Saskatchewan’s Indigenous sport community. 

With the support of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, the program has been able to expand their outreach to Provincial Sport Organizations (PSO) as well as athletes who previously attended Indigenous multi-sport events. With the dedication of multiple organizations, the new program has been highly received by communities.  

“We hope the program reaches the majority of the kids within our province within all the communities, both First Nations and Métis. Looking into the future, we hope the youth who attend our program can become athletes who attend the NAIG, whether that be 2027 or the 2031″

Randi Keshane, Community Sport Development Consultant

The Future Sport Program is composed of three sections – Future Sport, Future Stars and Future Leaders – each with a particular focus within developing Indigenous sport.  

Future Sport 

The Future Stars and Future Leader programs can succeed due to the endeavors of the Future Sport program, which is geared towards PSOs, District Tribal Councils, as well as First Nations and Métis community leaders. 

Interested councils and leaders are the base on which the Future Leaders program is built. Future Sport identifies the supporters who will help provide training and developmental opportunities to the youth in their community. It is the initial action that comes before the Future Stars camp and Future Leaders program. 

Future Stars 

The Future Stars program is a series of one-day camps, designed for youth ages 9-15 who will be eligible to compete at the next North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), which will be hosted in 2027 by Calgary. The program is offered at various Indigenous communities around the province and is held during the school year, to ensure it is accessible to interested participants. 

The day camps not only help youth foster a passion for physical activity and offer a pathway for participants individually to become future NAIG athletes, but they also create and foster bonds between the participants. 

“It gives the kids that perspective of being an overall balanced individual, not only as an athlete,” said Randi Keshane, Community Sport Development Consultant with Sask Sport. “Some of the athletes build lasting connections and relationship when they are at the program for the day.” 

Sport Development Consultant, Laura Dyck echoes that statement, asserting that the youth who interact initially with each other at the program will continue to evolve their connections at other Indigenous sporting events. 

“We have kids from different communities who later might run into each other at the Tony Cote Games and share their contacts with each other to stay in touch.” 

In addition to the sport-specific training participants receive at the camps, off-field, multi-sport information and education is presented by professionals from the Sport Medicine & Science Council of Saskatchewan. Discussions have covered several topics ranging from goal setting, the effects of physical activity and motion as well as general information on NAIG. The most recent camp hosted by La Ronge, featured presentations by Karissa Johnson on mental performance and Jordan Harbidge on fitness and movement. 

Since first being introduced, the Future Stars Program has received an astounding response from numerous communities. According to Dyck, they were forced to close registration at the Prince Albert stop due to the overwhelming number of participants. 

The program wants to continue prioritizing accessibility and is working toward future camps returning to communities, which will allow more youth to attend. 

Future Leaders 

The Future Leaders program was developed to build the coaching and leadership capacity within Saskatchewan’s Indigenous sport system. The program aims to support, develop and mentor individuals so they can become future leaders and coaches in their local communities. 

Following the conclusion of the 2023 NAIG, a number of athletes aged out of the 13 to 19 age group, leaving them unable to attend the 2027 Games. The Future Leaders program was established with those athletes in mind and offers them an opportunity to explore sport from another perspective, as coaches. 

The program offers access and training in resources such as the National Coaching Certification Program, first aid, guidance on developing toolkits for programs, Respect in Sport and various other certifications. Participants will leave the program with an accessible toolkit for themselves and their future community programs. 

In addition to training, participants are encouraged to assess their current community’s resources, to establish a successful and accessible program for youth in the community. 

“We have each leader map out what is in their community and what they have access to. They tell us if they have access to the gym after school hours, if there is an accessible rec centre or if they may require certain tools to start their program,” shared Keshane. 

“We hope the program reaches the majority of the kids within our province within all the communities, both First Nations and Métis. Looking into the future, we hope the youth who attend our program can become athletes who attend the NAIG, whether that be 2027 or the 2031,” said Keshane.