Being able to remotely develop capacity for recreation in many small communities across the North has been so rewarding. The following article was written by Sylvia and I to explain the value of the remote leadership training to organizations and communities.
Sylvia Riessner is an education consultant focused on online and blending learning for adults. She has developed curriculum and taught in British Columbia and Yukon for more than 25 years. She has been involved in the development, Pilot and evaluation of ongoing training provided by Recreation North. I am a consultant with expertise in community development, adult learning, planning and evaluation and my work focuses on the contribution of recreation, physical activity and sport, to health and well-being.
Do supervisors see a difference in staff who take Recreation North?
A vital component of the vision for the Recreation North online recreation leadership training is to provide equitable access to quality learning opportunities for emerging leaders in remote and rural communities.
Learners tell us about the value of participating in the Training Program, but we’ve been curious about whether their supervisors have also observed any changes. We spoke with supervisors from Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon who shared their thoughts about the possible impact of Recreation North.
In Taloyoak, a remote community in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Janice Anderson, encourages Recreation Coordinator, Nathan Mannilaq, to take all the recreation training he can. She sees the Recreation North training as a flexible, cost-effective way to develop his confidence and skills.
“But it’s not just about online training,” she said. “What I see that’s profound with the kids is that an organization believes in them, believes that what they think or do matters. They need to see that it’s worth working to be the best you can be.”
A little further south in Sanikiluaq, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, CAO Alison Drummond recalls meeting Quentin Sala as he was completing Grade 12. Quentin was teaching Inuit Games to youth, and then began working for Alison, running an after-school program. She encouraged him to try the Recreation North online training.
“Quentin is now 21 and the new Recreation Coordinator” Alison said. “It’s a tough job.” But she sees a growth in his confidence and skills that she believes are, at least in part, due to the online training. “He participates with us in meetings and is able to get his ideas across. He knows how to structure the training programs, prepare his own event budgets, and he’s getting more involved in the overall department budgets.”
In the Northwest Territories, Patricia Davidson is Executive Director of the Children First Society in Inuvik, and spoke to us about an employee. Angela Storr began working as the Outreach Coordinator last year in this newly-created position that requires creativity and collaboration with other agencies and groups. Patricia believes that the Recreation North training has been helpful in developing Angela’s confidence by connecting with experienced trainers and other emerging recreation leaders in the online learning events (courses). Although she meets with Patricia regularly, she works independently, and the flexibility of the online delivery meant she could also continue working towards a diploma with Aurora College.
In the South Slave Region of the NWT, Recreation Coordinator for the small Hamlet of Enterprise, Erin Porter encouraged Stephanie Kotchea-Cadieux to enroll in the Recreation North online training Stephanie began as a recreation program assistant in December 2019. Having recently earned her Certificate in Northern Recreation Leadership, Erin acknowledges the value of the skills and knowledge she gained through the training. Stephanie is relatively new in recreation, and Erin recognizes that this foundation built in taking the learning events will help Stephanie plan and deliver quality recreation programs.
In contrast to these supervisors in more remote communities, Kaitlyn Charlie works in Whitehorse, Yukon as the Youth Recreation Program Coordinator for Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN). Two years ago, KDFN offered only one or two recreation programs a week. In 2020, Kaitlyn supervises seven staff members who offer 10 programs a week, and she looks forward to expanding into a brand-new multi-purpose facility. With some additional in-person support from a Recreation North trainer, she and her staff have been working through the learning events to prepare for new programs starting this summer while coping with challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kaitlyn is clear about the benefits of the training, particularly for the younger staff members with less experience who now recognize just how important recreation is for community well-being, and personal health. She sees an increase in their awareness and sense of pride; and feels that they now realize, “the connections we make with youth are lifelong.”
She says she observes these staff showing more confidence in asking questions, making suggestions, or when participating directly in recreation events. Reflecting on the effect of taking the training as a team, Kaitlyn recalled an activity about leadership:
“We had the opportunity to talk about leadership qualities and recognize the wonderful characteristics that all of our staff have together. That was hugely impactful to be able to discuss the things we value in each other.”
As Kaitlyn’s team prepares to move into the new facility, she is realistic about the need to develop based on what the team is able to do now, and to add-on more as they have time.
“I see this training as supporting us in our growth and our ability to deliver dynamic programming and more of it,” she said.
This feedback from supervisors reinforces what we’ve heard from participants, and demonstrates the strength of the flexible, community-based approach. Recreation North’s online training program supports recreation staff and volunteers to provide recreational opportunities that strengthen health, wellbeing, and quality of life across the North.