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The University of Guelph-Humber recently collaborated with the National Aboriginal Diabetes Association (NADA) to present travel awards to four athletes competing at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).
NAIG is the largest sporting and cultural gathering of Indigenous Peoples in North America, and an event that has drawn young Indigenous athletes from all over Canada and parts of the United States to our doorsteps of Humber College and other Ontario campuses.
The applicants were asked to provide their interpretation of the meaning behind this year’s NAIG theme, “Health through sport; past, present, future.” Each of the award winners described the role that sport has played in their physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual wellbeing.
The organizers of the award wanted to raise awareness among youth about the powerful impact that physical activity has on improving and maintaining health and wellbeing. UofGH Kinesiology Acting Program Head, Dr. Agnes Coutinho, was on hand to congratulate the recipients of the award.
“I was extremely honoured to be in the position to present the awards on behalf of UofGH and NADA to these incredible athletes,” Dr. Coutinho said. “I was impressed by the level of maturity and passion that each of them displayed with respect to their sport, their personal contribution to their team and also regarding the bigger picture behind the NAIG. These athletes are inspiring other youth and all that are watching.”
“NADA was truly honoured to be a part of providing the travel awards to these four young Indigenous athletes. They each articulated how sport and activity affects all aspects of their lives in such an intelligent and inspiring way, and will become role models to their peers if they are not already. Physical activity is crucial in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes and these athletes, through their hard work and determination, can help those around them understand the benefits of activity and athletics.”, said Jeff LaPlante, Executive Director of NADA.
Meet the four UGH/NADA NAIG Travel Award winners:
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba
In her words: “Playing sports has taught me many valuable skills, for example working as a team, the value of hard work, and pushing to the next level. I know when I work hard it pays off, when I practise regularly I see the progress. Sports also brings my family closer together. My mom and grandpa back-catch for me so I can practise pitching, and my whole family comes to watch my games and my dance recitals. I am the oldest in my family so I know my brother and my younger cousins are watching me. I hope it inspires them to play sports.”
Home: Red Pheasant First Nation, Saskatchewan
In her words: “I am a young Cree woman from the Red Pheasant First Nation, Saskatchewan. My family holds strong values and believes in living a holistic lifestyle that nourishes our hearts, minds, bodies and soul. Participating in high-level sports has grounded me and invited me to live a life that promotes a love of sport and has allowed me to maintain optimal health. Participating in sport has balanced my wellness in all four areas: physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health.”
Home: Piapot First Nation, Saskatchewan
In his words: “I’ve been impacted mentally through my confidence in myself throughout my NAIG experience. Making Saskatchewan’s team has boosted my self-confidence significantly because I’ve also wanted to represent my family and province in any form. It truly feels great being part of something as big as NAIG because it makes me feel great that I’ve made it to a national level of competition in the sport I love. I’ve also been impacted mentally through the way I’ve earned a lifetime accolade of being on team Saskatchewan as a member of the U16 boys’ soccer team.”
Home: Chestermere, Alberta
In her words: “I went to see a doctor and he told me that I had a hyperactive thyroid and low iron. With these two physical health problems I was more tired and had little energy but when I was told I made the Alberta soccer team for Toronto it made me look forward to life. Another thing that made me feel spiritually that the great fathers were looking out for me was when I went to my first soccer session with my team and I was told I'd be the assistant/defence captain of the team. This made me look even farther into my future.”