Me? Dinner with the Governor General??

Yes siree I had dinner with the Governor General at 1 Sussex Drive.

I know. Hard to believe. My mother almost fell off her chair when I told her.

To be accurate it wasn’t just me. I mean there were others as well. In fact all of the three finalists for the Arctic Inspiration Prize were invited as well as those on the selection committee, donors and sponsors..

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada was absolutely delightful, the food was out of this world, and the surroundings were stunning.

After dinner we were shuttled to the Shaw Centre where the Fourth Annual Arctic Inspiration Prize was awarded.

The Prize (this year a surprise increase from $1 to 1.5 million) recognizes and encourages teamwork and collaboration among diverse groups and organizations, from north and south, in addressing the causes rather than the symptoms of issues of importance to the Canadian Arctic and its Peoples.

Emceed by none other than CBC Chief Correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, our innovative collaborative from Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and - as the token southerner - our Campus for Communities, walked away with $600,000 in funding!

Designed to enhance individual, community and environmental wellbeing, the funding will allow us to provide training and support designed to strengthen the competencies of recreation staff and volunteers to help them better support children, youth and adults in finding their own opportunities for physical, social and artistic expression, to improve their health, socialize and interact with others, learn new skills, have fun and find life balance. And, they will be better able to engage citizens in organizing and delivering sport and recreation events, festivals, and the visual and performing arts that provide opportunities for self-expression, social interaction and civic pride.

However, what is most exciting for myself and everyone involved, is that the acknowledgement is also recognition of the power and potential of recreation.

Most of us in the field of recreation were drawn to the profession of recreation because we wanted to make a difference. Like many, we grew up with community-based recreation and sport experiences that helped us grow our confidence and self-esteem, learn more about ourselves and our values, and increased our sense of belonging and ultimately, our quality of life. This leisure literacy, or ability to use our leisure time wisely, pumped vitality, creativity and positive energy into our lives as well as those of our communities.

The existing and potential recreation leaders we will be working with as a result of the funding will range in age, gender, experience, and education. These staff and volunteers fill roles in our communities as recreation coordinators and directors, youth leaders, recreation board or committee members, coaches, fitness leaders, camp counsellors, after school leaders, and more.

In other words, these leaders will do even more than they already do to contribute to human happiness, and to the resiliency and adaptive capacity of our communities. It will ensure local recreation leaders who can apply a community development approach that will serve as a catalyst for building the trusted relationships and networks that are essential for mobilizing the community for any transformative change identified by any northern community as a priority - education, health, social services, environmental or economic development.

But the prize is so much more than training for recreation leaders. It is at its very heart an investment in accelerated, transferable community leadership potential. It will result in an improved understanding that individual, community, and environmental wellbeing needs citizen engagement, shared leadership, responsibility, and accountability, and, a culture of learning among existing and emerging northern leaders.

I am grateful from the bottom of my heart for this amazing opportunity…I am so ready.  Stay tuned!

Posted on 02-01-16


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