Kim brings culture to sport. She is an Anishinaabe Ojibway Grandmother from Shawanaga First Nation Reserve who carries the Spirit name Head or Leader of the Fireflower and is Turtle clan. She has appeared on TV, radio and in many news articles connected to her passion of Indigenous Knowledge sharing. Kim has worked with over 34 First Nation communities having organized many Indigenous events, authored 4 books, received city awards & volunteers on a variety of boards as an Indigenous Advisor.
Carlyn, Sharilyn, & Keir Johnston
The Johnston family are members of the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation. They all have many years of experience competing in the sport of canoeing. Sharilyn made sure to get Keir and Carlyn out canoeing at a young age – Keir was only 5 months old! When asking Sharilyn what sport means to them she said, “There are so many aspects to it – closeness, challenges, competitiveness, accomplishments, adventure and fitness. Sport allows us to share experiences as a family, whether it is competing against one another, traveling together, or staying active with each other. Sports are a great way to bond with each other. Now with our busy lives, it’s hard to see one another. Having the Masters games in Toronto will allow us to come together and compete against one another again.”
Keir is currently employed at the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario. He recently transitioned into the High Performance Coordinator. He was a former National Development team athlete and competed for Canada 8 times in various international competitions in the sport of kayaking. Working with ASWCO allows Keir to focus on giving Indigenous athletes a high performance pathway in sport
Keir just recently attended the World Indigenous Nations Games. He said, “The World Indigenous Games was an amazing experience. It was just not about competing in sport but a celebration of life. Indigenous peoples from all over the world gathered together to celebrate their culture. The WinGames is starting a worldwide Indigenous community that was great to be apart of. I helped support the canoeing, archery and swimming competitions. It was great to see participants around the world competing against one another. I hope that we can bring the same welcoming feel to the 2018 Masters Indigenous Games.”
When Keir isn’t in the office, you can find him either kayaking his average 25k or in the water with youth teaching them the basics. In his down time, Keir likes to keep up with his favourite sports teams – The Toronto Maple Leafs & Toronto Blue Jays
Dano is from Cowichan First nation and is presently the Recreation and Sport Director for the community. He recently received gold at the 2017 and 2015 World Games coaching the Indigenous female soccer team at NIFA. Dano’s family has a rich history in soccer as his grandfather built the sport in his community. He started playing soccer since he could walk and considers the sport a foundation in everyone’s life. Dano has not only been able to use it to stay healthy and active, but also as a career.
Regarding the Masters Games, Dano said, “the Masters Games will benefit everyone because we forget about being healthy. We have lost a lot of young leaders and elders because we aren’t taking care of ourselves. The Masters Games will allow us to have fun, play and set an example to the youth. We need to stay alive and enjoy it so we can pass on the vital cultural teachings that come our way, so we can learn those things that have connected our ancestors. Our major games are about culture and identity and sharing song, dance and our traditional ways. Culture will be the foundation of games.”
Mike Auksi (Ojibway-Estonian) is currently the Coordinator of Education, Culture and Wellness Programs at the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. In sport, he was truly blessed to play hockey for the Lac Seul First Nation Eagles, as well as the University of Toronto Varsity Blues and Ryerson University Rams. Most recently, Mike’s lifelong dream came true as he represented Team Estonia at the 2018 IIHF Pyeongchang Olympic Qualification Games.
Connie Powless, from Six Nations of the Grand River, has played softball all her life. In 2013, her team, the North American Native Sisters (NANS) competed at the World Masters Games in Turin Italy and walked away with a bronze medal. This past April (2017), they competed again at the World Masters Games in Auckland New Zealand and were placed 9th out of 26 teams.
Chief Stacey Laforme
Chief Stacey Laforme was first elected to the Mississaugas of the Credit council in 1999 and since then has served his community for over 15 years. Born and raised on the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) territory, Chief Laforme says exercise has always been a part of his life and has always been a way for him to release stress. Twenty years ago while working for the Social and Health Services department in MNCFN, Chief LaForme started a gym, which is still in operation today. Chief LaForme’s daily wellness routine consists of push-ups, smudging, and telling his family he loves them every chance he gets.
Kerry Andrews is a member of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and has lived in her community for most of her life. She’s currently the manager of Sports and Recreation for the community and is honoured to play an active role in supporting the wellness of community members. Kerry says, “I look forward to being a role model for my family and community; to being a stronger, healthier version of myself now and long into the future.”
Sport played a very big role in Kerry’s life while growing up, she played on quite a few team sports such as volleyball, basketball, badminton and even rugby. Kerry and her husband share a love of golf and this season they plan on introducing the sport to their children.
She’s inspired by her Grandmother, a residential school survivor, and her mother, another strong and resilient woman who not only dealt with rheumatoid arthritis since her late twenties and diabetes but is also a breast cancer survivor. Her husband and children are the most beautiful and amazing blessings in her life, and she says they inspire her to work hard every single day to achieve a stronger, healthier Kerry.
Maria Jacko is an Algonquin Anishnaabe from Kitigan Zibi, QC. She’s a proud mother of three beautiful daughters, twin 18-year olds and a 13-year-old. She is a certified fitness instructor, medical laboratory technician, and entrepreneur (founder of Rebound Triumph and Maria’s Essential Oils). Maria has been fortunate enough to teach fitness and lead programs at Kitigan Zibi School, Kitigan Zibi Health Centre, the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, and a number of other organizations throughout the Ottawa region. She also organizes an annual run called the KZ Run/Walk for Maisy and Shannon, in honour of her niece who went missing nine years ago. You can learn more about the KZ Run/Walk for Maisy and Shannon at www.findmaisyandshannon.com
She finds that it’s easier for her to train when she sets a goal, and currently Maria is working towards three goals:
- The Odawa Healthy Living Program Challenge that she is completing with her sisters and friend.
- Winning track and field at MIG2018; she’s currently setting weekly goals to help her train better and harder.
- Running the Toronto Waterfront half marathon in October.
Maria says, “wellness for me is all encompassing and holistic. It’s like the medicine wheel teachings and includes the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual elements. Taking care of me is very important on all these levels.” She’s inspired by her daughters, she works to be the best Maria she can be, because she wants to best for them. She also sees inspiration in other Indigenous people who work to help our youth thrive to be the best they can be, and other Indigenous athletes. Her daughter Jennifer is a huge inspiration in her life right now because her goal is to be a future Olympian in track and field.
The Masters Indigenous Games are a fantastic way for Maria to test herself against other Indigenous people in her generation, and she’s excited for it! She says the Games are helping middle age and older Indigenous adults to strive for something, to train to be their best and to become healthier in the process. The Games are a great focus for this age group she says and hopes that more funding and more incentives go into this type of programming and they become a regular thing.
Mike Alexander is an Anishinaabe endurance athlete. He is a sixties scoop survivor who has transformed his life through cycling and triathlon. In 2017, Mike pedalled 7000km, completing events like the Tour De Victoria 160km ride. In 2018, Mike continues to defy stereotypes and negativity having completed his first Sprint distance Triathlon, and had become sponsored by Easton Cycling and Lusso Bikes. He has also begun sharing his story in public. Mike understands the interconnection between mind, body & spirit and sees a link between his Indigenous culture and the pursuit of athletic achievement.
Jonel Beauvais is a Mohawk woman, proud mother of three children and chosen auntie, sister and friend to many. She is a community outreach worker for the Seven Dancers Coalition in her home community of Akwesasne. The Seven Dancers Coalition seeks to educate Tribal communities and service providers through training and presentations on Sexual Assault, Domestic violence, Campus Safety, Teen Dating, Sex Trafficking and Stalking. She has dedicated four years as Lead Auntie for all the girls entering their first year of fasting in Oheronkon “Under the Husk”, which is the Rights of Passage for youth in Akwesasne. Jonel is a seasoned volunteer dance teacher with the St. Regis Recreation Dance Club, and a member to the Neh Kanikonriio Council, a Restorative Justice initiative that integrates Indigenous ways of mediation to reduce incarceration and provide a more interpersonal means of healing.
Timothy Smoke is a member of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation. Since 2012 he has been a practitioner of Muay Thai, which is a combat sport (martial art) that has been developed in Thailand. It is known also as “the art of eight limbs” because both hands, elbows, knees, and legs can be used to attack an opponent. Currently, Timothy is an assistant teacher & leader to the child and youth programs at Dohjo Muay Thai & Fitness, located in Peterborough, Ontario.
When asked what excites him the most about the Masters Indigenous Games 2018, Tim says, “It’s not just seeing indigenous people compete, but seeing it done on a platform that allows our people to come together and cheer each other on, even though some people may win and lose, it’s knowing that we have opportunities like the Indigenous Masters Games that encourage our athletic spirit to push boundaries. That’s the real victory”.
Celina, an Ojibway from Sheshegwaning First Nation situate on Manitoulin Island, ON. Celina is an accomplished hoop dancer, she was crowned Champion at the Salamanca Hoop Dance Competition, and the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Hoop Dance Competition in 2004. Her hoop dancing has given her the opportunity travel and share the her dances with people from around the world.
In 1999, Celina was involved in the production of “Power” and she travelled to Germany to dance, as well as in 2000 to perform at Expo 2000. In 2008 she was invited to attend the Convening of Indigenous Peoples for the Healing of Mother Earth Conference in Chipas, Mexico. Celina is also a Social Worker for the Native Community Care in mental Health and in the Recreational Leadership Program, and has earned a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree as well as a Bachelor of Education Degree.
When asked what excites her most about MIG 2018, Celina responded “I’m so happy this opportunity final came and hope it will continue for future years. I feel that it’s about time the games came back for this age group because as we get older we need something that could help push and thrive us to work towards something”