Spirit North engages Burns Lake Indigenous youth in skiing

Spirit North engages Burns Lake Indigenous youth in skiing

A new initiative in Burns Lake aims to support First Nations youth in pursuing healthy lifestyles by engaging them with skiing.

The Spirit North program introduces cross country skiing to Indigenous students and helps their communities lead culturally-relevant outdoor sporting activities.

Started in Alberta and originally known as Ski Fit North, Canadian Olympic cross-country skier Becky Scott took over the program last year and renamed it Spirit North.

From Alberta the charitable organization has expanded into British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“[There are] challenges facing indigenous communities in terms of lack of access, lack of opportunity and lack of accessibility especially when it comes to sport and recreation,” she told Lakes District News.

Scott has a background in Sport for Development – “The concept of using sport for a tool to achieve development goals” – which she has leveraged into her work with Spirit North.

“We’re aware that Burns Lake has a strong ski community and a strong culture of nordic sports. We’re looking forward to facilitating partnerships there,” and the ultimate goal, she said, is for the communities themselves to take over the programs.

Rachelle van Zanten is the Community Program Director for the Burns Lake area, and leads the training courses for students at Morris Williams Elementary School and Woyenne Youth Centre on Lake Babine First Nation, and at the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

“This has been a dream job,” she said. “[The kids are] so excited to be out on the land. And that’s one of the big goals of the program…They’re all really athletic and this opportunity to develop their skills that much further is going to be incredible for them.”

Spirit North integrates Indigenous culture into the training, such as with the Aboriginal medicine wheel concept of the interconnectedness of all things, and a holistic approach.

“In the first session we went out to the forest and discovered the plants and animals right around the school. And then they went over those things in their [Carrier] language classes,” van Zanten said.

She started the local iteration of Spirit North on Nov. 1 and, even though the program is ski-focused, the lack of heavy snow on the ground has been no barrier to getting the kids active and outside.

On Dec 12. Van Zanten, along with trainer Chris Paulson and educational assistants Donald Lacerte and Gavin Michell took nine Morris Williams’ students in Grades 6 and 7 out for some trail running, stretching and a game of Wolf Tag.

The children dashed down the snowy trails behind the school as if it was the Vancouver Marathon, and during a brief stop, Chris Paulson explained that running at a leisurely pace has its place in a proper training program.

“Training doesn’t always mean going full out,” he said. “It’s ok to run at an average pace and be able to have a chat with your friend.”

Grade 7 student Kendra Sebastian explained that the Spirit North program gives her a more complete experience than she gets when she plays with her friends outside.

“It gets us prepared [for other sports]. We get outside and off the playground. We use all our senses out here,” she said.

In northwestern B.C. Spirit North has also opened programs at Witset, Kitsumkalum, Kispiox and Kitamaat Village.

The initiative across four provinces receives $1 million in funding from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Spirit North engages Burns Lake Indigenous youth in skiing

Just Posted

NH representative confirmed that people who received their first dose will be scheduled to receive their second dose within the recommended timeframe.(The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette photo)
Vaccine rollout abruptly halted in Lakes District

Northern Health cites Pfizer shipment delays for the vaccine distribution disruption

This BC Hydro map shows some of the power outages across Northern BC. Many were caused by high winds. (BC Hydro Website)
Power out across much of Northern BC

BC Hydro anticipates some may be without power overnight

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

The B.C. Government increased limited entry hunt (LEH) authorizations of cow/calf moose by 43 animals in 2020 in mountain caribou recovery areas near Revelstoke and Prince George. (Wikipedia Commons)
Cow moose and calf harvest numbers expected by May

No wolves culled yet; cull scheduled for 2021 winter

The BC Government’s Rural Dividend Fund extension would help revamp the village brand. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Village to unveil its new brand on Jan. 22

Gets extension on province’s Rural Dividend Fund grant

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Flags line the National Mall towards the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper
B.C. photographer takes top Canadian Geographic photo prize

Sara Kemper shows what home means to her in Comox Valley photo

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

Most Read