Keeping Aboriginal athletes in the game

A culturally inclusive approach to Canadian sports

Photo: NEC Nighthawks women’s basketball team competing in 2013 All Nations Basketball Classic / Sarah Shamash for viaSport and Native Education College / CC BY-NC-ND

Understanding how an athlete’s cultural background factors into their performance can play a major role in coaching them to success. But culturally-sensitive approaches have long been lacking among sport psychologists.

Robert Schinke, Canada Research Chair in Multicultural Sport and Physical Activity, has partnered with local reserves in Northern Ontario to develop culturally-relevant approaches for sports psychologists working with Aboriginal athletes. Together, their work has uncovered the personal, coaching and social support practices of indigenous athletes at the community and elite levels. These traditional practices can then be used to encourage more Canadian Aboriginal youth to stay active and healthy.

Schinke is also investigating the challenges new Canadians face with the country’s sport system. With immigrant athletes comprising nearly 20 per cent of Canada’s Olympic team, Schinke is looking at how the system can better understand and respond to their needs.

These insights may radically change how we think about sport and recreation services, and improve the cultural sensitivity of sport programs both in Canada and abroad.

See also

Schinke is a two-time recipient of the Canadian Sport Science Research Award for Community Research for his work promoting sport participation among indigenous youth.

An interview with Robert Schinke