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    • N.W.T.'s Firth sisters to join Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

      April 23, 2015

      The N.W.T.'s Firth sisters - Sharon, left, and the late Shirley, right - will be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame later this year. The twins competed in cross-country skiing at four Olympic games. (Canada's Sports Hall of Fame)

      Sharon and Shirley Firth, twin sisters who competed in cross-country skiing at four Olympic Games, and the first female indigenous athletes to represent Canada at the Winter Olympics, will become the first N.W.T. inductees into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame later this year.

      The sisters are among 12 new inductees announced Wednesday. Others include hockey players Paul Coffey and Danielle Goyette, cyclist Lori-Ann Muenzer and judoka Nicolas Gill.

      "I was very shocked, and got very emotional," said Sharon Firth, whose sister Shirley died of cancer in 2013 at the age of 59.

      2015 Canada's Sports Hall of Fame inductees
      Surviving sister Sharon Firth (third from the left, bottom row) is photographed with other 2015 Hall of Fame inductees on Wednesday. (CBC)

      "Because of my sister's passing, I didn't want to do it without her. And I thought, well, we've always done everything together in relation to sports, and we are both being inducted, which is pretty amazing. So I accepted graciously."

      Sharon, who lives in Yellowknife, says she will attend the induction ceremony at Toronto's Mattamy Athletic Centre on Oct. 21.

      The Firths, members of the Gwich'in First Nation, are the third and fourth indigenous inductees into the Hall, following distance runner Tom Longboat and kayaker Alwyn Morris.

      "We know that Sharon and Shirley Firth's amazing story will inspire a generation of indigenous youth across the country," said Mario Siciliano, president of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

      79 medals at national championships
      The Firth sisters were born in Aklavik, N.W.T., and were part of the Territorial Experimental Ski Training program, which introduced cross-country skiing to athletes in Canada's North. After joining Canada's national cross-country skiing team, they competed at the 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984 Olympic Winter Games and at four world ski championships.

      Together they accumulated 79 medals at national championships.

      Asked what it was like to rub shoulders with Canadian sports legends like Paul Coffey at today's announcement, Sharon said: "Let's rephrase that. They were rubbing shoulders with me," with a laugh.

      "To be very honest, I never thought about the Canada Sports Hall of Fame," she says. "It wasn't on my bucket list. When we finished skiing, that was, as far as I was concerned, the end of my career. So this is very, very exciting, and I'm very proud to receive it."