By Eisa Ulen
He has made his way to the mountain, and the experience has given him the gift of gazing out at the expanse of earth and sky, into the boundless possibility of his future self. Many of his peers are kicking off their adult years in a crowded mall, or crouched in the back seat of a compact car, or leaning in the corner of a smoke-filled room.
But with the support of Nike and the Aboriginal Youth Sport Legacy Fund, Canada’s First Nations Snowboard Team (FNST) will pull more emerging women and men out of those dead-end spaces and into the open freedom of their true personal potential.
Founded in 2004 by 34-year-old Aaron Marchant, the FNST has grown from 10 members to 245 this year. In that time, the team has sent six members to competitions at the national level, and 45 members have become instructors (including one, Marchant says, who is “almost certified to certify”). By providing the means for young people to become professional athletes and trainers, FNST is creating sustainable, intergenerational change that benefits individuals and the First Nation communities that are their homes.
Below: "Canada's Caroline Calve, an advocate for the First Nations Snowboard Team, competes during the women's parallel giant slalom snowboard qualifications at the Vancouver Winter Olympics at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, B.C., on February 26, 2010." (AP Photo/Darryl Dyck, CP)