In 2021 Black Diamond Group became the presenting sponsor of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame’s Indigenous Sport Heroes Education Experience. On the first National Indigenous Peoples Day since the program launched we had the privilege of recognizing the observance in collaboration with the Sports Hall and some Indigenous athletes featured in the digital experience.
Over the lunch hour, we were joined by Dr. Sharon Firth, a four-time Olympian in Cross-Country Skiing, for a lunch and learn. Later in the afternoon, Black Diamond Group was privileged to sit on a panel at the Calgary Central Library discussing the role of sport on the path to reconciliation.
Lunch and Learn with Dr. Sharon Firth
Dr. Sharon Firth, four-time Olympian and Order of Canada recipient, grew up in Aklavik, above the Arctic Circle in a family of 15 people. Dr. Firth spent part of her childhood in the Residential School and Indian Day School systems, which prohibited her from learning or speaking her language and practicing her culture. At 12 years old, she and her twin sister Shirley discovered the sport of Cross-Country Skiing, after the U.S. Air Force in Alaska delivered skis to children in the community as part of the Territorial Experimental Ski Training (TEST) program; the program led them to an elite ski team where they began pursuing the sport professionally.
We were privileged to welcome Dr. Sharon Firth to our head office in Calgary for a lunch and learn, to discuss her experiences as the first Gwich’in Indigenous woman to compete in four winter Olympics, life above the Arctic Circle and what Reconciliation means to her.
At 5 p.m., our own Scott McLeod, Senior Indigenous Relations Advisor, joined a panel of Indigenous athletes and other members of the community to discuss the role sport can play on the path to reconciliation, and how it can empower and inspire our youth.
Panelists educated event attendees on sport’s historical significance to Indigenous Peoples – the Mi’kmaq were the first to create and use hockey sticks, paddling is inherently Indigenous – and the fantastic impact it has had on them. Many panelists spoke to how sports helped them find their identities as individuals and Indigenous peoples, and how being involved in sport can help youth achieve greatness, from graduating school to pursuing rewarding careers. The line between sports and reconciliation was drawn as Scott McLeod asserted that the two go hand in hand; sports teach athletes important life skills like leadership, accountability, team building and communication, and also provides a safe space for camaraderie and bonding, challenging stereotypes without outside influence.
If you were not able to attend the event you can watch the recorded session below.
We would like to thank Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame for including Black Diamond Group in the evening discussion panel, and for facilitating our Lunch and Learn experience with Dr. Sharon Firth. We would additionally like to thank Dr. Sharon Firth for spending her lunch hour with our employees, discussing life as an Indigenous athlete and the meaning of Reconciliation.
For more information about National Indigenous Peoples Day and National Indigenous History Month in Canada, please visit the Government of Canada’s website, here.