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Reconciliation and Physical Literacy: There Is a Connection

I am passionate about physical literacy. Physical literacy is for all ages, skills, and abilities. It allows people to actively participate in their communities and with their families, as well as keep healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Physical literacy can be defined as “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities.”

Because of my interest in physical literacy, and my work to create Get Moving (a physical literacy resource), I was excited to attend Sport for Life’s International Physical Literacy Conference in Toronto earlier this month.

One of the most interesting sessions was one on Truth and Reconciliation and Physical Literacy. You may not think these two issues are related at first, but the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) actually has five calls to action relating to physical literacy.

#87   Tell stories of Indigenous athletes.
#88   Ensure long-term Indigenous athlete development and growth.
#89   Change the Physical Activity and Sport Act to reduce barriers and increase Indigenous sport participation.
#90   Ensure sport policies, programs and initiatives are inclusive and reflect Indigenous culture and anti-racism awareness.
#91   Ensure International sporting events involve Indigenous peoples and respect territorial protocols.

Although these calls to action may be challenging, they also create opportunities to support reconciliation in a unique way. The love of sport, games, and play brings together very large and diverse groups of people, and brings attention to reconciliation to people who may not have been exposed to it before. Culture is a big part of sport, and it’s important to honour and respect the traditions of the Indigenous peoples here in the NWT and Canada as a whole.

Ideas to support these calls to action in your program:

  • Use a co-leadership approach.
  • Learn about the culture and the community you live in.
  • Speak to elders and learn about community protocol and traditions.
  • Find ways to include cultural aspects into your program.
  • Introduce ceremonies, songs, and dance as a way to celebrate or honour guests.
  • Learn about and honour protocols of host communities when you travel.

We also heard from a representative on this year’s committee for the North American Indigenous Games being held in Toronto. She talked about how the games will include and promote reconciliation. Athletes from all provinces and territories and nine American states will attend this year’s games, competing in 14 different sports.

To support reconciliation, the North American Indigenous Games 2017 is using the hashtag #Team88, to bring attention to the TRC recommendation #88 which calls on all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Indigenous athlete development and growth through continued support of the North American Indigenous Games. Be sure to give a shout out to #Team88 and support their efforts this summer.

— Charlotte Upton, Family and Community Literacy Coordinator

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