On this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we take a moment to pause, listen, learn and be part of meaningful change. It is not a process that begins and ends on a single day, but an ongoing commitment of time and effort.
Skate Canada has launched several initiatives around Indigenous engagement, and we will continue to do so through our Community of Practice and Educational Plan. Let us all be reminded that as we honor the past, it is important that we continue our ongoing efforts to support and uplift Indigenous communities.
Over the last year, Skate Canada has launched several initiatives aimed at bridging the gap between the sport of figure skating and Indigenous communities. These efforts have not only celebrated the Indigenous heritage but also sought to dispel misconceptions and create an inclusive space for all Canadians. As part of its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, Skate Canada is committed to continued outreach and building meaningful relationships.
In October 2022, Skate Canada hosted a sharing circle with Clayton Sandy, a respected member of the Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation, and our National Service Centre Staff. During the sharing circle, Clayton shared his personal experiences and stories, fostering a sense of unity and understanding.
A few months later, in April of 2023, a virtual session with Section Coordinating Committee (SCC) members titled ‘Dispelling the Misconceptions About Indigenous People,’ aimed to educate committee members about the ten common misconceptions surrounding Indigenous peoples. This session also provided information to debunk these stereotypes. Skate Canada is committed to breaking down barriers and promoting a more informed, inclusive society and will continue to outreach and offer opportunities for our members to learn as we move forward.
In June 2023, as part of National Indigenous History Month, Skate Canada featured Clayton Sandy’s personal story and all the important work he has done around education and reconciliation. By highlighting Clayton’s achievements, we not only recognized his contributions but also underscored the importance of Indigenous representation and the work still to be done.
Skate Canada also leveraged social media to feature Kaniq Allerton, a young Star Skater from Nunavut, displaying his sheer joy and passion for skating as we celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day. We recognize the importance of representation in not just figure skating but sport in general. When young athletes entering the sport can see themselves in others, it gives hope and provides inspiration that they can achieve similar feats to those who come from a similar background or culture as them.
Working together with Clifford A. Mushquash and John Henri Commanda, our National Service Centre Staff participated in the Kairos Blanket Exercise just a few days ago. The exercise is an interactive educational learning tool that reframed events from Canadian history and educated our staff with a retelling of these situations from an Indigenous perspective. The exercise concluded with a sharing circle where individuals were able to comment and share their experience.
In conclusion, Skate Canada’s journey toward Indigenous engagement and community building is an ongoing effort of understanding and continuing to work in “good ways”. This work falls under a larger umbrella of embracing diversity and inclusion.
We will continue to build on these initiatives and hope to set a valuable precedent for other organizations to follow suit, fostering unity and mutual respect among all Canadians, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.
ABOUT NATIONAL DAY FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
Each year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process. This federal statutory holiday was created through legislative amendments made by Parliament.