The NWTRPA regularly features Members, Board of Directors, Award Winners, and other Community Leaders within the recreation and on the land sector. This month, we’re featuring a long-time supporter and Member of the NWTRPA, and current South Slave Regional Director on the NWTRPA Board, Cynthia White.
Cynthia White came to know the NWTRPA as many do through the annual conference. It was the 2013 Annual Conference and Awards, and the NWTRPA was meeting in Tthebacha / Fort Smith where she lives, works, and plays.
“I was very excited about participating in the organization, so as soon as a board position came up I jumped on it,” says Cynthia.
Cynthia served as the Director for the South Slave Region for three years starting in 2014. She’s been with the NWTRPA and supporting the organization in the South Slave region ever since! Cynthia was then elected President in 2017. She continued to serve as the Board President for three years, until the 2020 NWTRPA Virtual AGM, where she was once again elected as the South Slave Regional Director.
“When I vacated the South Slave director seat to become president in 2014, there was only one person on my list to fill the vacancy: Cynthia White,” says Tim van Dam, current President of the NWTRPA Board. “She was, and is, a tireless volunteer and champion of recreation and recreational sport, and on the land activity in the NWT and I knew she would excel on the board for the NWTRPA. And did she ever.”
As an occupational therapist by training, Cynthia has, during her time with the NWTRPA, worked as the Community Services Program Coordinator, as Director of Community Services, and currently as the Senior Administrative Officer, for the Town of Fort Smith. More than that, Cynthia is an AFLCA certified fitness trainer, HIGH FIVE® Strengthening Children’s Mental Health trainer, and Elders in Motion Leader, and she’s participated in and supported countless NWTRPA initiatives such as the Get Active Grants program and being a Walk to Tuk Team Captain. She has also presented at past NWTRPA Annual Conferences and has been the MC for numerous NWTRPA Awards banquets over the years.
Cynthia believes strongly in the NWTRPA’s work as an advocate for recreation. “This is an organization that is essential in keeping the value of all types or recreation front and centre in the political sphere but also at the community and individual level,” she says.
Her dedication to recreation was celebrated with an NWTRPA Award of Excellence in 2015. The Award of Excellence recognizes an individual, organization or community that contributes to recreation and parks development and demonstrates professionalism, community engagement, and significant achievement. Cynthia was given this NWTRPA Award for her far-ranging positive contributions to her community, such as actively and successfully finding funding to run community recreation programming, and coaching boxing, soccer, and youth programming.
“Cynthia’s efforts have had a strong impact on the health and wellbeing of the community as a whole,” then-Mayor B.G. (Brad) Brake for the Town of Fort Smith said about Cynthia when he supported her nomination for the Award.
As an advocate for recreation and improving accessibility, Cynthia believes it is important that the NWTRPA continue to serve a broad spectrum of people in our territory and identify recreation beyond sports.
Cynthia says she appreciates the important role the NWTRPA has played in breaking down barriers between sectors by working with people and organizations in health, environment, social services, and transportation, to name just a few.
Cynthia has played no small part in the NWTRPA breaking down these barriers, and contributing to a positive, accessible, and equitable recreation sector in the territory. Cynthia presented a session titled Disabilities and Inclusion in Recreation and Sport at the 2014 NWTRPA Conference. In this session, she guided attendees in exploring the challenges to the inclusion of youth with a range of disabilities in recreation.
“Cynthia has been a powerful and respectful voice for the organization. She always sees the big picture of recreation and parks in the North,” says Tim van Dam. “It has been a pleasure to serve on the board with Cynthia White.”
During her time as President, Cynthia helped lead the organization through some challenging times at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in, and a change in Executive Directors.
She was a member of the NWTRPA Working Group to Address the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). And she has identified opportunities for Physical Literacy for the NWTRPA. Cynthia also participated in helping shape the Sport Physical Activity and Recreation (SPAR) framework that is meant to guide the sector in the NWT.
There are few spare minutes in Cynthia’s day between work, parenting (she has one cat, three kids, four dogs, and 12 chickens!), coaching, and being a foster parent, but she always manages to make time for the NWTRPA. The NWTRPA has been proud to have Cynthia involved in our organization and Board of Directors over the years. She is a positive role model for youth in her local community, and for all of us across the territory!
Thank you for all you’ve done!