APTN National News
As the 2017 Canada summer games wrap up in Winnipeg, Indigenous coaches are leaving with a new set of skills.
“I’ve had many opportunities with it,” said Amy Wilson-Hands, an apprentice coach with Team Ontario. “I’ve learned a ton along the way that I’ll bring back to my community.”
Wilson-Hands has been coaching high school volleyball for 10 years.
Originally from Rainy River First Nation, she’s spent most of her life in Fort Frances, Ont.
For the first time, she’s getting the opportunity to stand alongside Team Ontario during the games thanks to a partnership between the Coaching Association of Canada and Indigenous sports initiatives.
“A lot of times people just don’t know how to go about getting involved in something like this,” said Wilson-Hands.
“And I feel as though from where I am from because we’re kind of isolated in Northwestern Ontario it kind of opened the path for other Indigenous athletes as well as coaches to know that there are bigger things out there.”
The Aboriginal Apprentice Coach Program started 10 years ago.
Two coaches from each province and territory are chosen to train with a mentor coach.
Wilson-Hands was one of two picked from 84 applicants.
“Currently I’m the highest certified coach in my area as well as being Indigenous and a female,” she said. “So that’s a huge accomplishment for myself.”
From the volleyball court – to the pitch, Jennie Waldner is a Métis soccer coach on Team Saskatchewan.
She said the program has opened doors for Indigenous coaches and athletes.
“In the long run it really impacts the athletes and their ability to have more qualified coaches who have greater experiences,” said Waldner.
She said it has also given her the opportunity to connect with other Indigenous coaches from across Canada.
“It’s really good to be able to challenge each other and I’ve noticed at the games no matter whether it was a Saskatchewan team or not I was always cheering for those coaches,” she said.
Amy Wilson-Hands said she hopes others will see the benefit of programs like this one.
“It’s just endless out there and I just hope that more Indigenous coaches and athletes can see that and that they continue to strive for the best,” she said.
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