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Cross Country NWT president receives national award

Shawne Kokelj. Photo: Cross Country NWT

Yellowknife’s Shawne Kokelj has been awarded Nordiq Canada’s Firth Award, named for NWT skiing legends Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth Larsson.

The award “recognizes women who have made an outstanding contribution to cross-country skiing in Canada,” Cross Country NWT said in a Tuesday press release.

Kokelj, who served as Cross Country NWT’s president for the past three years, has “poured energy and vision into [the] sport,” her nominators for the award stated, and has “helped to inspire a huge increase in membership for a sport that has immense history in the territory.”

“Shawne has emphatically preserved and empowered the legacy of Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth Larsson in her efforts for Cross Country NWT.”



Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth Larsson each competed in cross-country skiing at four Olympic Games for Canada in the 1970s and 1980s.

Kokelj said outreach beyond the NWT’s four cross-country skiing clubs to its many other communities was most important to her.

“When we manage to get successful events in non-club communities, that is what’s phenomenal to me,” she told Nordiq Canada in accepting the award.

Kokelj stepped down as Cross Country NWT’s president last month but remains on the board as treasurer. The organization says it is now working to create a new strategic plan and find financial support for the flood-affected Hay River club.