Summary of Notes: Indigenous Sport Roundtable
The purpose of the summary of notes is to document key takeaways from the Indigenous sport roundtable held on October 7, 2020. The roundtable was comprised of approximately 15 representatives from across Canada, representing the Aboriginal Sport Circle and its network member Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies (PTASBs) – the Department of Canadian Heritage’s key interlocutors within the Indigenous sport community. Prior to the roundtable, they gathered to collaborate and discuss how to present and express their experience and collective request in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goals of the Minister’s roundtables, generally, were to:
- Ensure various stakeholders representing different sectors and industries are heard, having an opportunity to express their thoughts/ideas.
- Understand on-the-ground impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for sectors and organizations.
- Have constructive discussions to help identify potential avenues that could help accelerate recovery.
- Build a common understanding of the kinds of support needed, and the role of government(s) therein.
At the start of the roundtable, the participants shared their general experience of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indigenous communities. The introduction was then followed by their collective requests to the Minister.
Some of the key ideas and takeaways included:
- Return to sport and recreation in Indigenous communities is extremely challenging.
- Communities are extremely cautious about COVID-19 for many reasons, including (among other factors) historical experiences such as the Spanish flu, which eliminated many Inuit communities.
- Recovery support needs to be more inclusive and should not be characterized by a “one size fits all” return to play approach as this tends to overlook the complex needs and distinct interests of Indigenous communities.
- Importance of implementing culturally appropriate programming, as mainstream sport environments are sometimes neither safe nor welcoming for Indigenous participants.
- Systemic underfunding of Indigenous sport is leading to “Return to Sport” barriers such as lack of infrastructure and support to assist staff; need to address challenges regarding transportation and access to facilities.
- Need for more appropriate funding models for Indigenous peoples that are better aligned with Indigenous governance and mechanisms (e.g. organizations located in remote areas have difficulties completing calls for proposals).
- The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic provide a stark reminder of the need to support youth and sport’s critical impact on individual health.
- The North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) is the cornerstone of Indigenous sport, an occasion for positive cultural expression and often the highest level of competition that athletes will attain.
- The NAIG brings positive effects on a range of measurable health and wellness factors such as desire to remain in sport competition and to pursue further education.
- There are hopes that any progress achieved during the pandemic carries over once daily business operations return to “normal.”
- Despite hardships, positive and successful experiences were noted:
- Development and delivery of canoe/kayak program for Indigenous youth, which intertwined culture with sport.
- Implementation of outreach programs (virtual practices, online platforms) and sending of sport equipment to youth at home.
- Connections, relationship building, and partnerships to ensure that every youth living on and off reserve is reached.
- Some partners to consider: food banks, Friendship Centres, addictions and mental health centres, etc.
- Creation of Road to NAIG 2020 pathway.
- Delivery of grassroots Active Start program in learning centres.
- Opportunities for young Indigenous girls to gather for Female Empowerment Camps where they can learn to write job resumes, set goals and develop healthy eating habits and cooking skills, etc.
Requests in relation to the Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities (SSDIC) program:
- Critical to livelihood and communities and seen as a pillar for meaningful engagement and achieving commitments in the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
- Provincial and Territorial Sport Bodies (PTASBs) are committed to being good stewards of the funds and want to create lasting legacies and impact through program delivery. Their consistent input and involvement are essential to the successful implementation of regional programming decisions and program delivery.
- Concerns regarding SSDIC Stream 1 funding:
- Indigenous community needs assurance that funding can continue in perpetuity (every 5 years in continuity);
- Ability to “roll over” unspent funds in a regular funding cycle;
- Increasing funding allotment for eligible organizations.
- Regarding Stream 2, a request to re-examine the methodology on how the funds are allocated. In particular, rules on providing financial support to organizations that are not committed to long-term Indigenous development.
- National Strategy:
- Strategy would provide a framework on how to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action on sport.
- Would also articulate principles and practices for how best to support Indigenous-led sport in Canada and help ensure equitable funding for Indigenous sport organizations.
- Requires a process of engaging Indigenous communities throughout Canada in consensus-building to identify their unique and shared priorities as they relate to self-determined Indigenous involvement in sport, recreation, and physical activities.
- Collective input and knowledge needed to articulate and support Indigenous-led sport in Canada and guide public policy.
- Can help lobby provincial governments to maintain Indigenous perspective at the provincial level.
- British Columbia’s Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Strategy has helped represent Indigenous communities’ needs and priorities, and could serve as a roadmap to show the importance of sport for health and wellbeing.
- Strategy would also help governments, private and not-for-profit organizations in Canada be accountable for their work with Indigenous communities.
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