Fort Smith, NT (April 2, 2012)
– It was a multitasking weekend for Fast and Female participants at the third Northern Youth Empowerment Weekend in Thebacha/Fort Smith. Seven chaperones and eight ambassadors joined 36 girls ages 9 to 19 to take part in an action-packed weekend.
Thanks to outstanding sponsors and volunteers, girls were brought in from Fort McPherson, Deline, Colville Lake, Fort Good Hope, Trout Lake, Yellowknife, and Norman Wells to join participants from Fort Smith. Many of these communities are isolated with very few sports facilities.
The weekend-long Fast and Female event was a unique opportunity to get them together to share their experiences and learn new skills from each other as well as be exposed to inspiring female role models. The majority of camp participants attended season-long school or community programs. After last year’s Fast and Female event, many of the girls were motivated to try out for the Arctic Winter Games, held this year in Whitehorse, Yukon. One participant even won a silver ulu in snowshoe biathlon.
This year, activities reflected some of the unique sports enjoyed in the north as well as some not so local flavour. They ranged from xc skill stations and dog mushing to aquafit and kayaking, Zumba dancing, and jewellery making.
While Inuvik-born Sharon Firth captivated the audience with tales her journey from the trapline to the Olympics, lead ambassador Sarah Daitch held a leadership skill building workshop for girls aged 11-13. Firth and Daitch were joined by local biathlete and ambassador Betsy Mawdsley who was fresh from competing at the Biathlon Nationals in Quebec City.
One of the girls from Deline said it meant a lot to hear Firth’s story about growing up in a very small town with not much money and still pursuing an Olympic dream. “I think if she did it, I can do it too,” said the 11 year old.
The weekend finished up with a scenic ski on the historic Thebacha Loppet trail. Traditionally used to portage the mighty Slave River rapids, today the trail provides recreational skiing year round. The day capped off with an outdoor bonfire lunch and snowball fight before visitors headed to the airport and their respective homes.
“It was amazing to see how the girls overcame their fear and the confidence and joy that came from overcoming that fear and mastering a new skill,” said Daitch.
Juneva Green, one of the local organizers, impressed the girls with her experience and technique and stressed that skiing is a part of a lifestyle that will last their whole lives. This was something that the girls were able to take away.
“I want to keep skiing and snowshoeing my whole life,” one happy participant said afterwards. “Even when I’m a granny in a wheelchair.”
For Marie LaForme, teacher and chaperone from Colville Lake, Fast and Female has become an incentive that helps her keep the girls active. They know if they show up to ski after school they’ll be able to travel to the next Fast and Female.
“There are many opportunities for boys to travel to hockey tournaments or hand games competitions but Fast and Female is one of the few events that inspires the girls,” she said.
Laura Aubrey was one of the Fort Smith chaperones and organizers. Aubrey added, “My daughter Amelie came away from the weekend feeling self-confident, empowered to reach her goals, and had a deeper connection to other young females her age living in smaller communities North of 60. A big impact was having role models there all weekend. This reinforced the belief that healthy lifestyle choices, strong communities, and dreams are what will keep you going in life. She truly believes that dreams can become reality. You just have to believe in yourself and then make it happen,” she concluded.
Fast and Female would like to thank the incredible local organizing committee led by veteran biathlon and cross country ski coaches Juneva Green and Patti Kay Hamilton as well as all volunteers and ambassadors.
This weekend was made possible thanks to valuable local partners such as First Air, Northwestern Air Lease, the Government of the Northwest Territories, The Jokabeca Foundation at the Calgary Foundation, the Sport North Federation, and Fort Smith Ski Club. Fast and Female would also like to thank its national sponsors Buff, Best Buy, Sportchek, Cold-FX, Cross Country Canada, Clarins Canada, Lululemon Athletica, LUNA Bars, LIT Glitter, Sauce Headwear, and Champion System.
Fast and Female
Phone: (604) 506-8622
Local Event Coordinator