Conference Session Descriptions

Use the page below to find out more about the sessions you’ll be signing up for.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019



10:45AM-12:00PM —  KEYNOTE:

The History of Sled Dogs in Canada’s North

Follow Scott McQueen and Jordee Reid as they recall the history of sled dogs in Canada’s North and their close relationship with the People of this area.

Indigenous Peoples of Canada have a valuable relationship with sled dogs, one tracing back thousands of years. Many early explorers to Canada have documented the use of dogs by Indigenous People, commenting on the close connection between the two. Dogsledding is thoroughly interwoven in Canadian culture as it enabled our ancestors to collect hides for clothing, trap furs for warmth, harvest plants and animals for food, and even gather supplies for artwork.

Not so long ago, during the 1960’s and decades before that time, sled dogs were the only means of travel in Canada’s North. It has only been in the past fifty years that the use of sled dogs for transportation has gone through a major evolution, as motorized vehicles became more prevalent. The close bond Northerners had with their sled dogs could not be severed easily and many sought another way to use their dog team. This was when the spirit of competition arose, and people started organizing and participating in races. By the end of the 20th century, the sport of dog sledding was well on its way to a rising popularity.

From those early days, the sport has come a long way. It still continues today in most communities of the NWT. Settlements all across the North organize their own local competitions at various times during the November to April season. The sport allows both children and adults to learn about so many good aspects of life: work, responsibility, and challenge. The most important aspect of the sport, however, is the connection that people make to the heritage and culture of the North through their dogs.



Elders in Motion: Movement for the Mind

We all know that exercise is essential to a healthy body. A growing body of research shows that physical activity can also positively impact the brain. In this session, you’ll learn how regular participation in activities like table tennis can offer protection against dementia and slow the progression of Parkinson’s.


Youth: YOUth 4 Change – YOUth Councils and how to engage youth to affect change in your community

A youth council is a formal “board” of young people that provides representation or a “voice” for youth in the community. Join SideDoor staff to learn how to establish a YOUth Council in your community, following an easy 10-step process.

PRESENTER: Amanda Price

Recreation Leadership: Working with Volunteers

How do you recruit, work with, and keep volunteers? These are questions that many face when looking for volunteers for special events, ongoing programs, and more. Hear from our panel on what they have found to work best. Brainstorm with our facilitator on ideas that you could take back to your community.

PRESENTERS: Kim Rapati, Northern Farm Training Institute; and Dian Papineau-Magill, NWT Track and Field

On the Land: Dealing with Challenging Situations on the Land

Spending time on the land is important for health and wellbeing. Sometimes, however, we encounter challenging and potentially dangerous situations. In this session, participants will learn some strategies for de-escalating tense situations when they are on the land.

PRESENTER: Marnie Stickley, Crisis Trauma and Resource Institute



Speed Dating: Creating Connections

In this structured networking session, you will learn about the different resources and programs available to you. These quick, round-table discussions will give you snippets of information on a wide variety of topics from in, and around, the South Slave Region.



Movie Night at the Theatre: The Grizzlies 

Join us for a screening of The Grizzlies.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


Our Families, Our Way: The Peacemaking Circle

Peacemaking circles have been used as a method of conflict resolution and are a way to ensure that each party involved has the opportunity to hear and to be heard. Through the peacemaking circle, we will rebuild the reservoir of social capital we need to stand together today for our children tomorrow. This Carcross/ Tagish First Nation project is built on traditional virtues and values that empower the community to resume their traditional responsibilities, teachings, and culture. The purpose of this Program is to provide participants with the knowledge, competencies, connections, and practice they need to become effective peacemakers. A peacemaker is able to prevent conflict and transform conflicts into opportunities to build healthy, loving, and resilient relationships. More broadly, the purpose of the Program is to help C/TFN Citizens to see and use their existing traditional/cultural ways and build capacity together.



Elders in Motion: Cultivating Caring Communities

Social connection is an important part of wellbeing, especially as we age. In this session, you’ll learn how social isolation affects older adults in the NWT and what we can do to help Elders in our communities feel more connected.

PRESENTERS: Ann Firth Jones and Suzette Montreuil

Youth: Youth Programming – Why knowledge of mental health and addictions is paramount

When working with youth, it is imperative that volunteers and staff have a basic understanding of

the challenges that plague many youth, particularly mental health and addictions. Join SideDoor staff to explore practical strategies for front-line service providers.

PRESENTER: Jennifer Butler

Recreation Leadership: Proposal Writing with MACA

An interactive workshop designed to walk you through how to create an effective Youth Corp proposal.

PRESENTER: Conan Donohue, Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), GNWT

On the Land: Setting Up Youth for Success on the Land

In this session, participants will learn how to design, deliver, and evaluate on the land programs that support youth to grow and thrive.

PRESENTER: Kristen Tanche, Dehcho First Nations and Ali McConnell, Northern Youth Leadership




Join us at the AGM to learn more about what the NWTRPA achieved over the last year. The AGM is also an opportunity for NWTRPA members to elect new board members and vote on association business. The discounted member rate for the NWTRPA Conference requires an NWTRPA membership, meaning that most delegates can participate in AGM elections and voting.



Northern Farm Training Institute

The Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI) is an experiential school aiming to empower northerners, strengthen our communities, and create sustainability through local food production. Join us for a tour of this incredible facility.

Reusable Bag Making

Join the Hay River Library to learn how to make your own reusable bag.

Handcrafted Bag Making

Join us for a bus ride out to Enterprise. We will meet with Darcy Moses, who will teach us how to make a small leather bag.


Lacrosse is known as Canada’s official summer sport. The game of Lacrosse has historical cultural roots in this country. Join the Aboriginal Sports Circle to learn and try your hand at this sport.



NWTRPA Awards Banquet

Help us celebrate and recognize dedicated recreation professionals and volunteers in northern communities. A delicious full-course meal and entertainment are included.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Bright Spot Presentations

Bright Spots celebrate innovation and success in recreation programming in the NWT. Each year, we welcome four presenters from around the territory to tell us about their inspiring program or event.



Elders in Motion: Treat Your Feet

Did you know that our ability to stay mobile and active is linked to the health of our feet? As we age, our feet need extra attention. In this session, you’ll learn about the structure and function of the foot, some common foot issues, and some basic tips to care for your feet, so you can stay on your feet.

PRESENTER: Colleen Stanga

Youth: Nothing 4 Youth Without Youth – The importance of youth voice in anything you do with/for youth

If you run youth programs you must engage YOUth to guide and direct your programming. Youth voice, youth choice, and self-determination are all important components in youth engagement. Join SideDoor staff to explore the importance of youth voice and why implementing recommendations from youth is integral to successful youth programming.

PRESENTERS: Kimberly Gagnon and Amanda Price

Recreation Leadership: Purposeful Program Planning

How do you set a program schedule? How do you make sure it covers various groups and ages? Learn how these communities purposefully plan and pack their programming schedule for all ages.

On the Land: Building Community Through On The Land Programs

On the land programs are important for revitalizing connections to land and culture, and promoting physical and emotional wellbeing. They are also important sites for building community and strengthening connections within and between generations. Join us as two Collaborative-funded projects share about the value of land-based programming for nurturing respectful relations.

PRESENTERS: Representatives from Dene Najo and Chief Paul Niditchie School



Knowledge Exchange

There are several projects, programs, and resources happening in the territory. Join us for this session on finding out what is happening.


Wrap-up, Prizes, and Closing Prayer

Join us for this final session as we reflect on the Conference themes, talk about session highlights, and share our learnings. A variety of prizes will also be drawn!