Just as we’ve all had to adapt as we navigate through life during a pandemic, the NWTRPA has too. But we’ve also been up to a lot of great work, too!
A little over a year ago, we announced to our members, partners, and NWT residents that we were postponing all face-to-face programming in light of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, things have changed ... and then changed again!
The pandemic has certainly presented unique challenges to delivering events, workshops, and training but despite these stresses, over the past year, we’ve continued to support recreation and recreation leaders remotely. We have developed and shared resources, hosted remote networking events, organized virtual educational opportunities, celebrated and promoted successful local COVID-appropriate initiatives, and the NWTRPA launched a new micro-granting program meant to promote physical activity while still following the current public health guidelines. Our annual Conference and AGM became virtual events while our Awards banquet pivoted to celebrate winners in their home community.
Committed to Learning
We have also been using this time to review and enhance partnerships and program content and delivery so that the NWT Recreation and Parks association is offering the best possible training and professional development opportunities to our members and NWT residents.
Our On the Land Program Consultant, Rachel Cluderay, has been busy working with a diverse advisory committee developing and piloting Supporting Wellbeing, a culturally appropriate, skills-based training program that will enhance the capacity of people leading and supporting land-based programs to manage and respond to mental health challenges. Our Director of Professional Development, Amanda Grobbecker, has been working to offer Recreation for Mental Health Training, which helps leaders create new or adapt existing programs for individuals with mental health challenges. Our Director of Active Communities, Bri Krekoski, has been working to offer new ways to deliver Elders in Motion training, and she’s increased NWT capacity to deliver Elders in Motion training by providing online Facilitator Training and piloted Elders in Motion Long Term Care Training. Our Membership and Communications coordinator, Kaila Jefferd-Moore, created a whole new website, she’s worked with Bushkids to review our Awards program, and we’ve all been prioritizing translations. These are just some of the ways we’ve been revising and updating our programs to ensure that we are delivering the best programs, trainings, events, and opportunities for all NWT residents!
Recreation for All
Over the past year we’ve also reflected on our ambitious vision of “a territory where everyone has access to recreation programs and spaces that foster healthy families, strong cultures, and vibrant communities,” and our strategic goal of working with intention to advance decolonization and reconciliation through our work, workplaces, and relationships. We know that not everyone has access to recreation and those excluded are from oppressed populations, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC). We also acknowledge that Indigenous peoples in general, and Dene and Inuit in particular in the NWT, have experienced epidemics as part of colonialism and that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting oppressed populations. You can read more about Racism in Recreation and Parks. Furthering our commitment to our vision, we’ve focused internally. Staff have participated in anti-racism training; read and discussed “So you want to talk about race” by Ijeoma Oluo; participated in an Ethical Space session facilitated by Bushkids; and have assessed the organization's level of racial equity. The NWTRPA Board of Directors has also participated in a facilitated racial equity assessment workshop and has prioritized using a lens of reconciliation, racial equity, and ethical space while completing governance work. Our Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA) representatives have also participated in anti-racism training and implicit bias training with the CPRA Board. Learning is only the first step in our journey to become anti-racist and we plan to continue to prioritize this work.
Recreation is Essential
We know life has not been easy for many, but what continues to offer respite from the stresses and anxieties of the pandemic has been recreation and on the land activities. Recreation and on the land activities will continue to offer NWT residents social, physical, mental, and cultural benefits as we look towards the future. It’s clear that recreation plays an important role and is essential to recovery. Though we can’t know with any certainty what life will look like in the months ahead, we do know that recreation is key to finding a new normal because recreation at its core is about being well and being connected.
It’s been a bumpy year, but we are focused on moving forward while staying flexible. We love connecting with communities, and recreation and on the land leaders in person but as there continues to be uncertainty concerning the pandemic we’ll continue to adapt and adjust while following public health protocols. The NWTRPA’s developed COVID-19 procedures to ensure safety for all, and we’ve been slowly returning to in-person gatherings and travel within the NWT as the Chief Public Health Office advisories allow. This of course can and has changed quickly. We are currently following the CPHO advisories, including travel recommendations. We acknowledge this is crucial for the safety of our territory but hopeful that things will soon improve.
Finally, thanks to all the amazing recreation and on the land leaders in the NWT! Your work is so essential to recovery and resiliency. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff if there is a way that we can support recreation programming in your community or region.