Centring Indigenous Voices and Experiences to Advance Positive Youth Development in Sport Research


While sport can be an avenue for positive youth development (PYD), much of the PYD in sport research has been generated within a western, colonial context and the experiences of Indigenous peoples are often overlooked and underrepresented. Within Canada, Indigenous youth are the fastest growing cohort of youth, and their voices and experiences must play a critical role in advancing sport research, programming, and policy. The purpose of this presentation is to assert that Indigenous peoples must be centred to advance PYD in sport research, and ultimately to inform sport programming that is grounded in the voices and experiences of Indigenous peoples. Three critical areas will be addressed. First, we will overview research exploring Indigenous youth development in sport and physical activity, highlighting culturally unique findings that have contributed to the PYD in sport literature. Second, we will critically appraise the need for culturally unique approaches to PYD in sport research, which requires an understanding of the diversity and distinctiveness of Indigenous identities to consider the cultural relevancy of research approaches. Two strengths-based Indigenous frameworks, the Circle of Courage and the Four Rs, will be proposed as worthy of exploration within the PYD in sport literature. Third, we will discuss how to further advance PYD in sport research by amplifying diverse and distinct Indigenous voices, engaging in anti-racism programming and research, and considering intersecting social identities to understand diverse sport experiences. To maximize PYD in sport for Indigenous youth, we need to work with, learn from, and centre Indigenous peoples.