Promising start to Ringette Canada’s Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities initiative
It’s been 20 years, but the first phase of an exciting new project has brought ringette back to the Northwest Territories and set the stage for further growth in Canada’s North.
A partnership between Ringette Canada, the Government of Canada, and Dehcho Physical Literacy delivered hands-on clinics in four communities across the NWT in March and April.
The program represents the first phase of Ringette Canada’s Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities initiative funded by the Government of Canada. The goal is to use ringette to empower communities to help create a quality sport experience for participants that contributes to the community’s overall health and other positive social outcomes.
Almost 200 children and youth enjoyed a combination of Gym Ringette and on-ice skill sessions in schools and community centres. Gym Ringette is the most accessible version of the sport, particularly with pandemic restrictions limiting access to after-school and community programming.
The original plan had included eight stops, but changes had to be made due to COVID-19 restrictions. For young people in those restricted communities, the program offered virtual sessions delivered online.
“Everyone was really happy to play a new sport and try something new,” said Ringette Canada intern, Laurence St-Denis, who spent two weeks in quarantine as soon as she landed in the NWT. She brought tremendous energy to the inclusive sessions that drew both boys and girls and attracted local media coverage.
“There’s a two-year plan in place where the first one is just to bring clinics in and see who’s interested, maybe find some volunteers,” added Thorsten Gohl on behalf of Dehcho Physical Literacy. “I would describe it as a success on both fronts. We saw lots of interest from the kids and we re-engaged a number of individuals who played ringette when they were younger and who now want to get involved as volunteers and coaches.”
Plans are already in the works for the next phase of the program, which includes volunteer training and a virtual coaching clinic this year that will be geared towards improving sport experiences for Indigenous athletes. Ringette Canada also hopes to send another sport leader back to the NWT in 2022 to host more skills clinics, competitions and jamborees, if public health guidelines allow.
For more information on Gym Ringette, please visit the Ringette Canada website. Photos will be posted on our Ringette Canada Flickr page, which can be accessed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7738799@N02/.