2017 was a busy year for sport involving the NWT, which would make the job of singling out people for honours a tough job.
The Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT managed to do just that as it gave out its annual awards on Nov. 2 in Yellowknife. A total of six awards were handed out to people in sport, culture, education and law enforcement.
Brandon Thompson of Fort Smith was named as winner of the Coach award. He was the coach of Team NWT’s girls volleyball entry at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games in Toronto this past July and has been involved in coaching both in the NWT and in Alberta for several years.
In his acceptance speech, Thompson talked about reading an article on the way into Yellowknife about the 11 most influential people in life to others and that brought back memories for him.
“Sitting back and seeing old faces and old teachers, a lot of familiar faces,” he said. “Everyone here tonight is one of those 11 people, some of them are huge.”
He spoke highly of Scott McQueen, himself a volleyball coach and player as well.
“I don’t have any words to explain how wonderful a person Scott is,” he said. “His family has been more than kind enough to support and help me in various ways throughout my career in coaching in the North.”
Fort Resolution had a big night as two of its community members won awards. Dollie Simon won the Culture award while Bess Ann McKay was named the Community Builder winner.
McKay said she was thankful and grateful for the recognition of all the work she’s done in the community, mostly in the world of dog mushing. She’s been an official at the Arctic Winter Games in past years and also works on the Canadian Championship Dog Derby every year in Yellowknife.
“My hard work and dedication doesn’t always go into my community,” she said. “I travel to other communities as well to assist and I gear most of my work toward youth and I thank my community for allowing me to do that.”
Eugene Roach of Yellowknife received the Education award and Cpl. Scott Sieffert of the Yellowknife RCMP was awarded the Commanding Officers Award for his work with the force’s Aboriginal Policing Service as well as volunteering as a coach with the Aurora Minor Soccer League in Yellowknife in the 7-8 division.
Sieffert, who’s B.C. Metis, said being nominated by his colleague, Cst. Matt Peggs, was a complete surprise.
He said being part of the Aboriginal Policing Service has given him a chance to travel to several communities around the NWT.
“I was blown away with the support I received when I went to the communities,” he said. “There are so many wonderful, wonderful volunteers and so many wonderful athletes that are out there. I’m happy that I got to play a small role.”
The evening finished up with closing remarks from Angela Grandjambe, the Sports Circle’s board chair.
She said recognizing the exceptional work being done in the communities by the award winners and anyone else who volunteers their time is very important.
“These people have continually shown dedication, hard work and have made significant contributions to the residents of the NWT,” she said.