Without 2010 Olympics, First Nations Snowboard Team may never have existed
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When Vancouver/Whistler was chosen to be an Olympic Host City in 2003, the buzz of it hit and it hit hard. Being a snowboarder for only 2 years, there was not a single thought in my head to even consider training for the Olympics. That would be kind of ludicrous! Yet not even a year later, I received a phone call from Aaron Marchant, who became the founder and coordinator of the First Nations Snowboard Team (FNST), then just a dude with a dream.
This phone call was very weird, I was asked if I wanted to train as a snowboarder to compete at the Olympics and represent my nation; not only Canada, but one that dates back much further, the Lil’wat Nation…. ummm WHAT!? I accepted as any 18 year old would, and there began the Olympic dream for me, and an amazing opportunity for future First Nations youth to prosper and excel in the snowboard world.
Alongside my close friend and FNST member Jonathan Redman, we trained hard and were focused on only one thing, the halfpipe. We made it onto the BC snowboard team together, we travelled to halfpipe contests together and we trained the younger generation that was part of the newly formed FNST Recreational Program together. The Olympics and snowboarding were all anybody talked about around me, and it was exciting being a young Indigenous snowboarder with Olympic dreams in her home territory. As my career progressed, so did the FNST.
By 2009 the FNST was in full swing with both a high performance and recreational team and 3 members on the BC freestyle team. I guess you could say it was pretty successful. Now, thanks to the Olympic Bid and one Squamish Nation member who had an idea, the team still runs today.
The First Nations Snowboard Team has been an amazing opportunity for myself and for other First Nations youth to not only get involved in sports, but to also be a part of something so much bigger. The FNST gave our youth a chance to represent our nations on an Olympic stage, but it turned into so much more.
We are now seeing FNST members become snowboard instructors, teaching First Nations youth all across Canada, with Rec programs throughout the country and high performance team members who podium at boarder cross, halfpipe and freestyle contests. There is so much room to expand, yet it all comes down to one thing, involvement within our communities. In my point of view, FNST has helped so many indigenous families through rough times, and helped open the eyes of our youth to a new world. While it creates the opportunity to understand the snowboard industry, it gives them a chance to explore their own territory from a new angle and in a fun way, snowboarding.
Without the 2010 Olympics, the First Nations Snowboard Team may never have existed. The 2010 games positively impacted First Nations Youth, not only to the Four Host First Nations, but to all First Nations youth in Canada.
Make sure to look for the First Nations Snowboard Team on the slopes this season.
Learn more about the First Nations Snowboard Team via their official website.
The next chapter
Sandy Ward has continued to build since 2010. Now she's engaging new First Nations athletes in winter adventures outdoors. Read on here.