Here's how you can help ensure recognition for Indigenous athletes

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Are you a coach, athlete or sports fan? Then this week's edition of reconciliation resolution is for you.

This holiday season rabble.ca has partnered with Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto to launch a campaign urging Canadians to take up implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a new year's resolution for 2016. Here's how. This week we're talking about sports and Reconciliation, Recommendation #87. Here's the call to action: 

We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.

Implementing TRC Recommendation #87 can be done by anyone. I call upon all of those reading this post to make a point of using your voice to do the following to ensure that Canada's Indigenous peoples are remembered as having played an important part in the bringing a strong athleticism to the national arena.

Write a letter to your local Member of Legislative Assembly or Member of Parliament asking him or her to:

  • Write a letter of support to include Aboriginal peoples as part of sports hall of fames' public education
  • Bring this to the attention of the Minister of Small Business and Tourism, the Honourable Minister Bardish Chagger
  • To raise this issue in Parliament during Question Period
  • To bring this to the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to ask the question during Question Period in Parliament  
  • To raise the issue with key partners and stakeholders at the Annual Tourism Congress or Canadian Council of Tourism Ministers' meeting in 2016, which will be held in Winnipeg
  • Tweet the Honourable Minister Bardish Chagger at @MinofSBT and get your friends to flood and start trending using a specific hashtag like #cansportshall or #fnsportshall

Addresses for all MPs can be found by clicking this link.

Bring this to the attention of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame:

  • Contact regional and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame about sharing the stories of Aboriginal athletes, developing programming, and volunteering
  • Write letters to the Sports Hall of Fame using snail mail or email. Click here for that address.
  • Start a change.org petition to send a general email the President & CEO & Director, Exhibits & Programming of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame about having a permanent exhibit about an Aboriginal inductee. Learn about the Firth twins,
  • Learn about athletes like Ted Nolan, Fred Saskamoose, and Sharon and Shirley Firth, who became the first Indigenous inductees to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday December 8 of 2015.
  • Volunteer with a sports hall of fame and create a stream of communication with them to have more Aboriginal public education about Aboriginal inductees

Bring this to the attention of Aboriginal communities and leaders and ask them to:

  • Speak to Aboriginal sports hall of fame inductees about seeking election as a Governor for regional or Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. As there currently aren't any Aboriginal or visible minorities on the National Board of Governors.
  • Get your local school involved by talking to a school teacher to ask if their classrooms would be interested in doing project on one of the few Aboriginal sports hall of fame inductees.  As part of the curriculum students could write letters, mail their art projects or letters to the sports hall of fame, and start a website or blog highlighting them. This school project could also be showcased at a local community centre. With the consent of children and their parents, contact the media, they are often looking to highlight this type of feel good campaign at the end of the six o'clock news.
  • To write the regional and national board of governors at various sports halls of fame asking them to permit a permanent board seat for a qualified racially diverse governor.
  • Tweet, email, or talk to representatives of Indian Bands, Métis locals, regional and national Aboriginal political organizations to campaign for more public education of Aboriginal inductees. A few such organizations are: the Chiefs of Ontario, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Dene National Assembly, and the Métis National Council.
  • Get in touch with local Aboriginal sports organizations and ask them to sign on to this campaign, a few examples of such organizations include: Aboriginal Sports BC; Aboriginal Sports, Recreation and Physical Activity Partners Council (ASRPA); Manitoba Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Council Inc
  • Contact APTN about highlighting inductees or forgotten Aboriginal athletes who have competed nationally or internationally

Other ways you can implement this TRC Recommendation #87:

  • Talk, email, or tweet Clara Hughes (Olympian, hall of fame inductee, and Honorary TRC Witness) about bringing Recommendation #87 to the attention to the board of governors or bring attention to this issue.
  • Go to your local museum and talk to a curator about curating an exhibit about Aboriginal sports iconography and elite Aboriginal athletes (like inductees). This could one day be a travelling exhibit and be showcased at a hall of fame, you never know!

These are just a few of my ideas on how to implement TRC recommendation #87 highlighting Aboriginal inductees in public legal education for sports hall of fames. Let's see how we can make some small changes with just a few short key strokes or lending your voice to this important issue.

To see more ideas about how you can work toward reconciliation in 2016, click here

If you have more ideas about how to do this, click here to share and discuss them on babble, or tweet @rabbleca.

This series is produced in partnership with Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto (ALST).

Christina Gray is an Indigenous (Tsimshian, Dene, Métis) lawyer who is called to the bar in Ontario. She articled at Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto and is currently on a short-term contract in the East African country of Uganda.  Follow her on Twitter at @stinagray_

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