NAN welcomes arrival of new athletics program to its communities

    THUNDER BAY, ON, May 4 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand
Chief Terry Waboose welcomes the arrival to Nishnawbe Aski Nation schools a
program called Fun in Athletics.
    Administered by International Fun and Team Athletics (IFTA), the program
is designed to educate youth of the achievements of great First Nations
sporting heroes, and through modern physical fitness programming and goal
setting, to inspire them to take up sports.
    "The arrival of this program could not have been more perfectly timed as
it comes on the heels of a 140-page indigenous children's health report
stating that the obesity rate for First Nations children living on reserve is
36 per cent compared to eight per cent for Canadian children overall," said
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose. "Not only will
this program promote positive First Nation role models from the sporting
community to our youth, it will also result in positive impacts to their
health and self-esteem as growing individuals."
    Canadian Athletics has a history steeped with elite First Nation athletes
including World Marathon record-holder Tom Longboat, Olympic track stars Joe
Keeper, Alex Couteau and many others successfully competing at the world
level, added Waboose.
    "At the moment, there are fewer First Nations athletes competing at elite
levels than there were even a couple of decades ago," Waboose said.
"Introducing programs such as Fun in Athletics to our communities opens doors
for young hopefuls who might have their sights set on participating in events
such as the North American Indigenous Games but don't yet have an outlet for
training. It is with great appreciation that I congratulate the staff at IFTA
for bringing such positive and beneficial programming to our youth."
    The program will be offered to all NAN communities in the province over
the course of the next two years.
    "The program is initially being delivered by IFTA development officers
who will travel to the communities," said Ivan Bunner, IFTA General Manager.
"However, the goal is to create a sustainable program that will be run by each
First Nation community and establish a competition structure that will last
for many years to come. IFTA will work directly with all the communities who
wish to participate using exciting programs as a focus for children to have
fun and get fit."
    This project was made possible by Athletics Ontario, the governing body
for track and field in the province. By using this connection to the
established club structure, it is hoped that talented First Nation children
can be given the opportunity to become tomorrow's successful athletes.

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities located in the James Bay Treaty 9 and
Ontario portions of Treaty 5 territories - an area covering two thirds of the
province of Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Michael Heintzman, Media Relations Officer -
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4906 or (807) 621-2790 mobile; Ivan Bunner,
General Manager - IFTA, (416) 425-4078 or

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