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connecting our sport's heritage to the rich history of first nations, inuit, & métis

Connected by Canoe is a place where we can share and celebrate Indigenous history and its influence on our sport. This is an evolving project to share resources with our community on our sports history, land acknowledgements, learning opportunities, and Indigenous sport associations.

Canadian Canoe Culture

The canoe is a symbol of the great wisdom to be learned from Canada’s Indigenous people. The canoe is not only an important part of Canada’s past but our present and future as well. The canoe teaches us we are all “in the same boat” and by “pulling together,” Canadians of all backgrounds, regions and beliefs can build an equitable, sustainable and inclusive future for Canada.


The North American Indigenous Games is a multi-sport event and cultural celebration involving Indigenous youth between the ages of 13-19 from across North America staged intermittently since 1990. NAIG help us realize the collective potential of our bodies, minds, spirit and of our people – our hopes and dreams – The Spirit Strong, Brave & True.

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Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) is the designated Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sporting Body (P/TASB) for Ontario, serving all Indigenous Peoples across the province. ISWO works to serve all Indigenous Peoples and communities, including First Nation, Inuit and Métis, across the province of Ontario, in an equitable and fair manner.

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The Aboriginal Sport Circle (ASC) is a member-based, not-for-profit organization that supports the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal peoples and communities through sport, physical activity, and recreation. 


Canoe History


The Canadian Canoe Museum suggests that "in the history of watercraft, the canoe of the Aboriginal Peoples is perhaps the ultimate expression of elegance and function. All its parts come from nature, and when it is retired, it returns to nature." This sentiment is echoed by the craft's historical importance.

Alwyn Morris

Alwyn Morris, a retired Canadian sprint kayaker, a member of the Mohawk nation in Kahnawake, he is considered one of the most influential Indigenous athletes of all time. He is the first and only Aboriginal Canadian athlete who won a gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games and one of the only three North American aboriginals to do so.

After winning the gold medal in K-2 1000m race with fellow Canadian Hugh Fisher, Morris raised an eagle feather when he was standing on the podium. It created widespread influence among Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Morris continues to be a leader for Indigenous athletes, supporting multiple foundations and community programs.

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CKC Aboriginal Paddling Initiative 

The Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, near Brantford, Ont., is home to the Aka:we Canoe Club. Founded in 1999 and a CKC member since 2004, Aka:we, a Mohawk word meaning ‘paddle, was the fourth First Nations sprint club in the country. The club promotes fun, health, and well-being while maintaining the cultural aspect of canoeing. It hosts the Pauline Johnson Regatta, named for the popular Mohawk poet and performer who was once a member of the Brantford Canoe Club.

An important step forward was the selection, in 2013, by the Ontario Canoe Kayak Sprint Racing Affiliation (CKO Sprint), of an aboriginal woman coach to be a Canada Games apprentice coach. Tiffany van Every travelled to Sherbrooke, Que., with the Ontario team, and was involved in all aspects of coaching. This Canada Games program was, in part, a request from CKC that the Games provide an opportunity for Aboriginal Canadians to connect to the Canadian sport system.

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