Supporting sport and recreation in Yukon

Currie Dixon, MLA for Copperbelt NorthAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, March 18, 2016
by Currie Dixon, Minister of Community Services

Year after year, Yukon’s young athletes continue to impress me with their skill, dedication to sport and sense of fair play.

This was made clear once again this year by Team Yukon’s incredible performance at the recent Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland. Our contingent of 320 members brought home 100 ulus and 12 fair-play pins.

I attended the games myself, and saw first-hand that the trip to Greenland was a life-changing experience for our athletes as they forged new friendships, strengthened bonds with teammates, and learned from unique cultural experiences.

The Government of Yukon provided more than $1 million to support Team Yukon’s attendance at the games, and if you ask anyone who attended, it was money well-spent. I see the team’s success as another sign that our investments in sport and recreation are paying off.

Our government believes that access to sport and recreation opportunities is an essential community service for all Yukoners. Engaging in physical activity provides personal, social, environmental and economic benefits. It fosters individual health, and community well-being.

For that reason, Yukon’s sport community received more than $1.4 million in funding in 2015/16, provided through partnerships between the Government of Yukon, the Yukon Lottery Commission and Sport Canada.

To support recreation in the territory, the Yukon government provided just over $1.1 million dollars in 2015/16 to community and other recreation groups to support programming and regular operations.

From supporting community recreation, to providing funding for the development of athletes, coaches, and officials, we are committed to improving the opportunities for sport, recreation and active living for all Yukoners.

To help make this a reality, last month we released the Yukon Sport Action Plan in partnership with the territory’s many sport organizations.

The plan sets out our government’s goals for sport in the territory for the next seven years. It is a guide to how we will develop, deliver and pursue excellence in sport. Most importantly, it will help us build the type of sport we want to see in our territory: sport that is fun, fair, inclusive and supportive of excellence.

It offers a strategy for building our sport system by increasing sport participation, improving sport performance, strengthening sport capacity and raising awareness of the benefits of sports to communities.

To help communities provide better recreation programming to their citizens, we released the Yukon Community Recreation Planning Toolkit in January of this year. The toolkit, which is easy to use and adaptable for all rural communities, outlines a five-step process to help create a community recreation plan.

Another indication that Yukon is making the right investments in sport and recreation came in January, in the form of a major national prize for a Yukon-led recreation initiative.

The Tri-Territorial Recreation Training (TRT) Project, which is led by the Recreation and Parks Association of the Yukon (RPAY), was awarded a $600,000 Arctic Inspiration Prize. This prestigious prize recognizes extraordinary contributions by northern organizations that benefit not only the North, but Canada as a whole.

The TRT project aims to improve recreation opportunities for people in the Canadian Arctic by providing training to community recreation leaders. The TRT team includes the NWT Recreation and Parks Association, Nunavut Recreation and Parks Association, and the governments of all three territories.

Ultimately, the positive impact of sport and recreation comes down to individuals – the athletes, parents, coaches, officials, administrators and volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise to help make Yukon a healthier, happier place to live, work, play and raise a family.