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Harrison Rosch and Ryan Ignace had good reason to miss the Thompson Blazers’ spring identification camp.

Both members of last year’s Blazers, Ignace and Rosch were in Halifax last week, competing for Team B.C. in the 2015 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC).

And they came home with bronze medals.

“It was an amazing experience,” Rosch told KTW. “Being able to go across Canada and play hockey, it was awesome.

“Especially playing at a high level of competitive hockey, it was the experience of a lifetime.”

After going 3-0 in round-robin play, B.C. won its first playoff game 7-1 against Team Atlantic. The province’s only loss of the tournament came the following night however — a 7-4 defeat at the hands of Alberta in a semi-final matchup — relegating it to the bronze medal game.

Playing for third the following night, Ignace and Rosch helped Team B.C. to a 5-4 defeat of Team Manitoba to finish the tournament on the podium.

“We went over there as probably one of the fastest teams in the tournament, expecting a better place,” Rosch, a defenceman, said. He noted the level of play was similar to what he saw in a full season playing in the B.C. Major Midget League with the Blazers.

“But, a bronze medal at a national event, it’s pretty big. I don’t really know how to put it into words at the moment.”

The players weren’t the only Kamloops-area representatives at the tournament. Tk’emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson was in Halifax, too, as part of Team B.C.’s coaching staff.

For Ignace, the 2015 tournament was his second trip to the NAHC. In 2014, he played for a B.C. club that captured silver in Quebec.

“We wanted to come back with gold, but to come out with bronze is pretty cool, too,” the 16-year-old forward, who had two assists in the tournament, said.

“I get one more year to help next year, too, so if we can get gold next year, that would be pretty cool.”

For Ignace and Rosch, who are good friends away from the rink, it was a special experience to travel across the country to play hockey together.

And though both felt pride in being able to represent their province and their towns — Ignace goes to school at South Kamloops secondary, but lives in Deadman’s Creek — being able to do so at an all-aboriginal tournament was particularly special.

“The pride is all there,” Rosch said. “It’s a big thing, just because it’s aboriginal hockey, I guess.

“It’s still a national competition, it’s still an honour to be able to play at this tournament.”

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After months of hard training and countless hours of practice, athletes from all over Nunavik will have an opportunity to compete at one of two Team Nunavik–Québec (TNQ) coastal trials. The trials are part of the TNQ selection process for the 2016 Arctic Winter Games that will be held in Nuuk, Greenland.

From April 24 to 26 and from May 8 to 10, a total of 158 participants will compete in Quaqtaq or Inukjuak in six disciplines: Arctic Sports, Badminton, Cross-Country Skiing, Dene Games, Snowshoeing and Table Tennis. Organized by the Recreation Department of the Kativik Regional Government (KRG), these competitions will determine which athletes are invited to the final regional trials to be conducted in Kangiqsualujjuaq next November.

This process leading to the final selection of TNQ participants requires a huge effort on the part of KRG and municipal recreation workers, consistent coordination, and dedicated volunteers. “We’re going through a long and meticulous process to be sure we have the best delegation possible to represent our region and its culture. We are truly lucky to be able to count on so many committed volunteers,” stated Nancianne Grey, TNQ Chef de Mission and Director of the KRG Recreation Department.

“All these young athletes have been training over the past months and we’re all excited to see what they will achieve. We want all Quaqtamiut and Inukjuamiut to visit the sport venues, attend the competitions and encourage Nunavik’s top athletes,” declared TNQ’s Coordinator, Karin Kettler.

The two-year TNQ development and selection process began in many communities late in the fall of 2014 with the hosting of successful local try-outs. TNQ athlete evaluation criteria include performance at the trials, time devoted to training, as well as behaviour and attitude.

Follow TNQ during the Ungava and Hudson coastal trials by visiting the Team Nunavik-Quebec Facebook page.

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The area could play host to a national aboriginal hockey championship tournament in 2017 provided a bid being prepared is successful.

Eight female and eight male teams of players in their mid to late teens from across Canada along with coaches and others would be expected to attend, says Terrace city councillor Brian Downie, a member of a committee which has been exploring the idea of hosting the tournament.

The bantam/midget level National Aboriginal Hockey Championships have been held since 2001 and Downie expects more than 500 people would travel here.

“I think this is an exciting opportunity,” said Downie in comparing the tournament to the hosting here in 2010 of the BC Winter Games, an event which harnessed a huge amount of volunteer participation.

As many as 44 games would be played, taking up approximately 120 hours of hockey at the Terrace Sportsplex’s two rinks over a week-long period.

“It would be a pretty busy place,” said Downie of the sportsplex.

This year’s tournament began April 27 in Halifax and lasts until May 2. The 2013 and 2014 tournaments were held in Kahnawake, Quebec.

The local committee, which includes Kitselas and Kitsumkalum, the Kermode Friendship Centre, the Kermode Tourism Society and the Terrace Minor Hockey Association, has until April 29 to submit a letter of intent which would then be followed by a comprehensive bid package.

“It’s quite an involved bid process,” Downie noted of the package which would first be evaluated along with other bids in B.C. The successful one would then being sent to a national selection body.

The addition of three hotels now under construction and an airport served by three airlines contribute to the area’s amenities, he said.

Downie will seek the official blessing of the city at the April 27 city council meeting.

The National Aboriginal Hockey Championships were founded by a national organization called the Aboriginal Sport Circle and sanctioned by Hockey Canada, the national organizing body for hockey in Canada.

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The Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Paralympic Schools Week is a weeklong celebration of parasport and the Paralympic movement. Paralympic Schools Week is the perfect way to educate students on parasport and establish a positive perception of people with a physical disability, all while learning about Team Canada’s Paralympic champions and rising stars.

This year, there is a wide variety of ways for your school to participate, including:

Trying out activities from our free Paralympic FUNdamental Physical Literacy Resource in your classroom or gym. Packed with easy-to-use activity plans, the resource is a great way to include kids of all abilities seamlessly into your programming. Register for FREE at: education.paralympic.ca

One of the key activities that will take place is an exclusive, free LIVE Cisco presentation: Chat with Champions on Tuesday May 5, 2015. It will feature Canadian Paralympic athlete Caroline Bisson (para-Nordic) and David Eng (Wheelchair Basketball) who will share their stories and their athletic pursuits.

There will be two LIVE Chat with Champions sessions. The French presentation takes place at 12:00 EDT and the English presentation at 13:00 EDT. The presentations are 30-40 minutes, including a Question and Answer session.

For more information on how to participate in this free activity, please visit: http://paralympic.ca/chat-with-champions

The Spirit of Syilx Youth Unity Run will kick off tomorrow at 1:30 pm in the southern portion of the Okanagan Nation territory in Omak Washington, where the run ended last year.

The run will commence at the Omak Pow Wow Grounds and head up past Omak Lake to Nespelem. The run will carry on for the next three days with runners relaying 230kms through Keller and Inchelium with the final destination being Christina Lake British Columbia on May 3, 2015.

The goal is to encourage Nationhood through action and healthy life style while tackling key social problems. By utilizing action as a means to engage with youth in the community, ONA has a significant opportunity to reach the ever-growing number of youth among the eight member communities. Every year the number of participants is on the rise, which provides youth with an opportunity to reconnect with their culture in a positive environment.

“The Spirit of the Syilx Unity Run means reconnecting the land and the people in parts of our territory we don’t often go. It means affirming our existence and the existence of our ancestors who travelled these routes on foot. For us to do the simple act of putting foot to ground, instead of always driving a car, reconnects us to the more important things in life. We feel the spirit of the land, the wind, the rain, the sun, and each other. It heals the heart and soul, and reconnects us as one Nation, one Community, One People, “stated Mariel Belanger a member of the Okanagan Nation and participant of the run.

In Canada, the youth suicide rate is five to six times higher than non-Aboriginal youth: 126 per 100,000 versus 24 per 100,000 (First Nations Regional Health Survey 2008/10). “First Nations communities in British Columbia that had higher rates of First Nations language use also had lower rates of suicide than did communities where use of the First Nations language was not as common.” Eric Mitchell, an elder from the Okanagan Indian Band, implored the youth to recognize the mountains and river. The mountains were put here with the trees and animals. Whatever made those youth to take their own lives felt inwardly and outwardly alone, but they had the mountains, trees, and animals as their relatives and are never really alone. This is part of the awareness that the Okanagan Nation Alliance and their elders want to impress upon their youth.

This year the Okanagan Nation welcomes Waylon Pahona, the founder of the Healthy Active Natives Facebook group on the run. He will be sharing with the youth his journey towards a healthier life as well as running alongside the youth. Waylon is a personal trainer and dedicated runner who has making a name for himself in Indian Country. He loves to help other Natives become healthier and is always open to sharing his knowledge of healthy nutrition and exercising. “It takes time and commitment to endure running. I also embraced it as part of my culture and a way of life,” said, Pahona.

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More than 360 of the best young aboriginal hockey players from across Canada have gathered in Halifax this week for a tournament that celebrates skill and culture.

The National Aboriginal Hockey Championships are taking place at the BMO Centre in Bedford.

The tournament, which showcases the top under-18 male and female aboriginal players from across the country, has been held annually since 2001. This is the first time it’s being hosted by Nova Scotia.

“Our kids are starving for opportunities, our First Nation kids right across the country, on reserve, off reserve, they’re starving for opportunities, and this is exactly what it provides,” says Greg Hopf, a board member of the National Aboriginal Sports Circle.

“A lot of cultures are dying…and just the fact that all these aboriginal players come together to play in a tournament is a really good opportunity,” says Shannon Baetz, a member of Team North.

Both the male and female divisions are comprised of eight teams, which represent all provinces and territories.

When the players aren’t on the ice, they are interacting with their fellow competitors building life-long friendships.

“Everybody on this team becomes best friends over the week, over the past couple years I guess… pretty good friendships being bonded, everyone stays in communication after the tournament,” says Casey Ward, captain of Team Atlantic.

“Out of all the tournaments I’ve been to, this has to be my favourite,” says Baetz, who is competing in the tournament for the fifth straight year.

Hopf says the tournament also serves as a national stage for aboriginal players.

“We have NHL players who are currently playing in the NHL, that this is where they got their start… this is where they got their look. This is where the scouts said, “I like that kid, I want that kid on my team”, says Hopf.

Tournament alumni include professional hockey players such as two time Stanley Cup champion Dwight King of the LA Kings, Calgary Flames forward Micheal Ferland, and Bridgette Lacquette, who recently made her debut for the Canadian Women’s National Team.

Linden McCorrister, captain of Team Manitoba, says those players are his inspiration.

“Everyone wants to make it to the NHL… so getting to play here is just another step closer”, says McCorrister.

The week-long tournament ends Saturday, with the Gold and Bronze Medal games being played at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.

Team Saskatchewan looks to defend their championships in both the male and female divisions.

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The International Physical Literacy Conference 2015 (IPLC2015) detailed program is available now. Delegates will have a total of 90 sessions to choose from, and the program outlines which sessions cater to specific sectors or fields, and which will fuel attendees’ passion for physical literacy. The conference runs June 13 through 16 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre in Vancouver, BC.

Physical literacy is defined as having the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life. IPLC2015 delegates will learn about how physical literacy creates a culture of inclusion and empowerment. They will hear about how cross-sectoral collaboration can improve children’s experiences at school, in recreation settings, and in sport. From injury prevention to healthy living strategies for older adults, attendees will be informed about approaches to living healthier, more active lives.

The IPLC2015 brings together sport, health, education and recreation experts to discuss and advance physical literacy best practices around the world. More than 60 presenters from over 10 countries will deliver their messages to 300-plus conference attendees. By collaborating and aligning programming, the recreation, education, health and sport sectors provide people with more and improved opportunities to develop physical literacy and live happy, healthy lives.

Regular registration for the IPLC is open until May 30. Register here. IS4LS members receive an additional $100 off registration, and membership is complimentary through 2017. Become a member here. Interested parties can also register for the exhibit program here.

www.is4ls.org

The International Sport for Life Society

The International Sport for Life Society (IS4LS) seeks to achieve a healthy and active worldwide population by enhancing the quality of sport and physical activity. The IS4LS consists of specialists from all disciplines, including sport professionals, health practitioners, recreation experts, government officials, and academics. Remodelling how sport is supported and reshaping the way athletes of all levels and abilities are trained on a global scale will advance the quality of life for everyone, in every country.

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The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) today announced that 20,000 Ontario students will benefit from a ground-breaking education and awareness program about the dangers of appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs (APEDs) thanks to a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF).

The $478,700 grant will allow the CCES to expand its Succeed Clean initiative to 12 new communities across the province, with the goal of reaching 10,000 students annually over the next two years. The announcement was made during the first-ever CCES Summit on APEDs and Youth, held today in Ottawa.

Succeed Clean is an awareness and education program that aims to reduce the use of APEDs by children and youth. These dangerous substances include everything from anabolic steroids to unregulated nutritional supplements easily available online. Their use can have serious consequences for Canadian youth, both in terms of their long-term physical health and their athletic dreams.

“Our research shows that most Canadian high school students lack knowledge about the potentially damaging side effects associated with the use of appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs,” said Paul Melia, President and CEO of CCES. “We’re thrilled that this OTF grant will allow us to educate more Ontario youth about these risks, using an approach that’s been proven to work.”

As part of Succeed Clean, university and community athletes are trained as peer mentors to deliver presentations about the risks of APEDs to students in middle school and high school. The program was developed and piloted in the Kitchener-Waterloo region in 2012-13 with the support of a multi-year regional grant from OTF. An evaluation of the pilot project confirmed that students had more knowledge about the side effects of these substances and were less willing to take them.

London, Peterborough, Toronto, Guelph, Kingston and surrounding area, Ottawa, Windsor, Sudbury, and Waterloo region are among the Ontario communities that are expected to benefit from the Succeed Clean expansion.

The CCES is an independent, national, not-for profit organization with a responsibility to administer the Canadian Anti-Doping Program. We recognize that true sport can make a great difference for individuals, communities and our country. We are committed to working collaboratively to activate a values-based and principle-driven sport system; protecting the integrity of sport from the negative forces of doping and other unethical threats; and advocating for sport that is fair, safe and open to everyone.

The leading grant maker in Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation strengthens the capacity of the voluntary sector through investments in community-based initiatives. An agency of the Government of Ontario, OTF helps build healthy and vibrant communities. For more information, please visit: www.otf.ca.

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