Team Ontario Coaches Announced for the 2020 North American Indigenous Games
Coaches from communities across all regions of Ontario selected to lead more than four hundred Indigenous athletes in fourteen sport competitions.
Mississauga, Ontario – October 29, 2019 – Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO), the designated Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Body (P/TASB) for Ontario, announced Tuesday its roster of coaches who will lead more than four hundred Indigenous athletes at the 2020 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). The 2020 NAIG, scheduled to take place from July 12-19 in Halifax, Nova Scotia will host more than 5,000 Indigenous athletes (between the ages of 13-19) from across Turtle Island, competing in 14 sport competitions.
ISWO undertook a massive campaign to recruit coaches for Team Ontario, with call-outs for all fourteen sports, utilizing all of its digital and social media platforms. ISWO received more than 120 applications in response to the call-outs, with additional applications and letters of interest, still coming in. Current projections for Team Ontario include 30 Head Coaches, 28 Assistant Coaches and 14 Managers, in addition to a team of chaperones for the 442 strong team of young Indigenous athletes, expected to attend from every region of the province.
“The interest in the available coaching positions we have received this year has been tremendous,” says Keir Johnston, High Performance and Sport Manger for ISWO. “Coaches play such an important part in the development and future trajectory of an athlete. A good coach can motivate you to be better, a great coach can change your life. No matter how you look at it, coaches are pillars in our communities, supporting our young athletes, giving guidance, developing sport skills and most importantly, incorporating our Indigenous teachings and way of life, into the lessons they are modelling for our youth.”
This year’s roster of selected Team Ontario coaches hail from all regions of the province including communities such as Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Moose Cree First Nation, Oneida of the Thames First Nation, Dokis First Nation, Sakimay First Nation, Pikangikum First Nation, Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Six Nations, Fort Albany First Nation, Akwesasne Mohawks, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Wikwemikong First Nation and the Métis Nation of Ontario – just to name a few. Many of the coaches selected to lead Team Ontario for the 2020 NAIG are returning, having volunteered their time and expertise to support Team Ontario during the 2014 and 2017 NAIG’s. One such returning coach is Amy Wilson-Hands, who has inspired hundreds of young athletes across Ontario and is committed to supporting Indigenous athlete development. Wilson-
Hands, originally from Rainy River First Nation, and now living in Fort-Frances, Ontario, was one of ten coaches who took part in the 2017 Canada Games Aboriginal Apprentice Coach Program. Wilson-Hands has coached teams at several of ISWO’s provincial tournaments like the Ontario Native Volleyball Invitational (ONVI), and also led the 16U Female Volleyball team for Ontario at the 2017 NAIG.
“Working with Indigenous athletes always renews a passion in me for coaching,” says Ms. Wilson-Hands. “Many times, Indigenous athletes have more barriers to overcome to excel in their sport; if I can somehow break down a barrier, I am doing my job as a coach. If I can help one Indigenous athlete reach a goal or make a post-secondary team or learn some life lessons, then I know that I have given them some tools to succeed. Many times, people think it is the coach that touches the life of an athlete but having done this for many years, I have realized that it is the athletes who touch my life extraordinary ways.”
In addition to returning coaches, one of the greatest legacies of the NAIG movement, is the development of former NAIG athletes into certified coaches, leading a new generation of athletes. One such coach is Mackenzie Deleary, a former NAIG athlete who competed on the first Indigenous women’s lacrosse team for Ontario at the 2017 NAIG, and who is now playing lacrosse for the University of Western Ontario.
“Being on the first Indigenous women’s lacrosse team was amazing, as we achieved a lot even though we had such little time to prepare together; now I can look back from first-hand experience of the program knowing what works and what needs improving,” says Ms. Deleary. “The NAIG experience helped me tremendously with the transition to University competition by developing confidence and self efficacy. Through my participation in the NAIG, I felt that I could pursue higher competition and still maintain a deep connection to my Indigenous roots.”
With such a high caliber of coaches assembled to lead Team Ontario at the 2020 NAIG, families and communities will be watching in anticipation to see if their children will be bringing home gold. With the coaches roster now finalized, ISWO will be announcing highly anticipated tryout dates and locations, in the days and weeks to come. For more information about Team Ontario and upcoming tryouts, please visit iswo.ca/naig-2020/. To learn more about the 2020 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), please visit naig2020.com.
Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) Quick Facts:
- ISWO is the designated Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Body (P/TASB) for the province of Ontario, primarily funded through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
- ISWO serves all Indigenous Peoples and communities across Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, living on and off-reserve, in rural and urban settings, encompassing more than 350,000 Indigenous Peoples in the province.
- ISWO promotes and creates opportunities for participation in sport and cultural activities that promote wellness and positive lifestyles for Indigenous Peoples across Ontario.
- ISWO is recognized by the Aboriginal Sport Circle (ASC) and the North American Indigenous Games Council, and is the designated sport body for the development, selection and management of Team Ontario, which participates in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) and North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).
For more information about ISWO, visit iswo.ca.
ISWO honours the traditional lands and homelands of all Indigenous Peoples and communities across the province of Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis living both on and off reserve, in rural and urban communities.
Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO)
Kylie Thompson, Communications and Media Coordinator