Front runners: Striding towards shared acculturation as a pathway for Indigenous athletes in varsity sport


The characteristics of colonial Euro-Canadian environments pose significant adjustment challenges for Indigenous athletes who relocate from reserves (Schinke, Peltier, et al., 2013), including culture shock and disconnect from one's home culture (Blodgett et al., 2014). Striding together toward a shared acculturation approach where university-level teammates and coaches learn about Indigenous athletes' cultures and work toward incorporating aspects of them into team settings (see Schinke, McGannon, et al., 2013), the listed authors are undertaking a project for which the current research serves to inform. This project seeks to: 1) raise cultural awareness among program participants, 2) encourage program participants to introduce Indigenous values into their team settings to create more inclusive environments, and 3) engage program participants in outreach activities where they will learn from, and give back to, Indigenous community members. To gather feedback on these goals, including content ideas for the cultural awareness sessions and practical approaches for introducing Indigenous values within team settings, we interviewed four Indigenous university athletes/athlete alumni who analyzed and critiqued the project's preliminary plan. The thoughts communicated, which is the focus of this presentation, included land-based learning and content on the history of Indigenous peoples, including sport history, and the incorporation of sharing circles during cool-down sessions and traditional medicine use during times of stress (i.e., competition). These ideas will be helpful in informing our shared acculturation approach to create inclusive sport atmospheres for Indigenous athletes.