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Aboriginal Sports Circle wants to help fund Indigenous coach development

The Team NT athletics team at NAIG 2017 in Toronto. Sarah Pruys/Aboriginal Sport Circle NWT

The Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT (ASCNWT) is aiming to increase the number of Indigenous coaches in the territory – and so they are encouraging coaches, sports organizations, and recreation centres to reach out to them if they need help getting people trained.

The Indigenous Coaching Development Program is about building capacity in communities to that there are trained coaches across the NWT to run programming, explained Lori Rutherford-Simon, who works for the ASCNWT and is administering the program’s funding. This can mean using the funding to mentor, identify, or develop Indigenous coaches from NWT communities.

“We would really like to build capacity within the North to keep activities and programs running when people leave communities – we can have a transient population, and due to this, it is important to build coaching capacity to keep programs running in communities,” Rutherford-Simon explained. “A coach or programmer will be living somewhere and offer this great product, and then when they leave that community, the program ends.”

“So if we could have a coach work with that person, they could be trained and they could keep offering that program in the community.”



She said having Indigenous coaches isn’t just important for continuity – but also so that young athletes can see themselves in their role models.

Rutherford-Simon said the ASCNWT can support Indigenous coach development in a number of ways.

Funding through the program can be used for training or workshops, such as to bring a coach into a community to train other coaches, or to send a coach out of a community to be trained elsewhere in the NWT, or in the south if the training isn’t offered in the North.

It can also be used to identify, recruit, and support local Indigenous coaches, or to provide mentorship opportunities for Indigenous coaches.



On the website, the ASCNWT further explains, “Funding to cover the costs and logistics of creating mentorship coaching opportunities for Indigenous coaches to gain experience in their sport … could include attendance at major games, such as North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) or Arctic Winter Games, roles with Team NT, or the opportunity to spend some time with experienced coaches while they run practices and games with their respective teams.”

“One of our board initiatives is to have 100-percent Indigenous coaches participating at NAIG in the future, therefore it is important now to keep building capacity with our coaching pool for NAIG,” Rutherford-Simon said.

She gave the example of Fort Smith’s snowboarding club, the Slide Zone Shredderz, accessing the funding to bring an Indigenous snowboarding coach to town to work with the local coaches.

“Aboriginal Sports Circle was able to make wishes come true for the Slide Zone Shredderz,” wrote Erin MacDonald, who volunteers with the snowboarding club.

The club wanted to bring in a guest instructor for its Big Fun event, and the financial support of the ASCNWT helped make it possible for the Slide Zone Shredderz to bring Mikey Barton, and Indigenous snowboarding instructor from BC, to Fort Smith.

“Our local instructors were able to learn from Mikey as he worked with snowboarders of all ages and abilities,” wrote MacDonald. 

The club also used the funding to send one of their Indigenous snowboarding coaches down south for additional training. That coach was then able to coach Team NT at a big snowboarding event.

“[His] expertise was able to grow which allows him to continue to instruct our local snowboarders all winter long,” MacDonald said. “The greatest way to grow a club and promote healthy lifestyle choices is through local leadership and this costly investment is made possible thanks to ASCNWT.”

Rutherford-Simon encouraged anyone interested in applying for funding to support an Indigenous coach’s development to reach out to her for more information by emailing or calling (867) 669-8338; or to head right to the website to fill out the application form.

After applying, turnaround time to receiving feedback or funding is typically quite quick. Organizations or individuals who are given money are also required to submit a short report explaining how the funding was used afterward.