Safe Sport

Indigenous Snowboard Program

Engaging our Indigenous youth through snowboarding, promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.


At Canada Snowboard we believe in embracing the culture of snowboarding combined with the Canadian Heritage of our Indigenous communities. Along with our National sport values, we exist to develop snowboarding not just as a competitive sport, but as a way of life.

In order to become the world-learning snowboard nation, we recognize all Canadians should be exposed to the culture and unique experience that the world of snowboarding brings. Our program goal is to collectively develop grassroots, community-based snowboard programming to benefit Indigenous youth in communities across Canada.

What is the Indigenous Snowboard Program?

It all started with the recognition that all Canadians should be exposed to the culture and unique experience that the world of snowboarding brings. In 2015 we launched the Indigenous Snowboard Program where we worked with communities on the implementation of our Little RIDERS program which includes the holistic and cultural component within the curriculum.

How has it evolved?

In order to increase specific sport and cultural awareness, we are working closely with the Provincial and Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies, and our Provincial/ Territorial Snowboard Associations to increase Indigenous-specific activations surrounding our major events. By involving not only the community youth, but also the elders, Council Members, and Chiefs, we aim to offer holistic all-encompassing events that display the inclusivity of the sport of snowboarding.

We are pleased to share that Canada Snowboard has been selected by the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Relief Fund to receive a grant from their Sport Relief Fund. The fund helps community sports organizations like ours continue to provide access to sports and play for Canadian kids. This grant will go a long way towards helping us continue with the implementation of our Indigenous activations across the country. 


Photo Credit: www.xgames.com

Spencer O’Brien is a Canadian Olympic snowboarder who competes in Slopestyle. A Six-time Winter X Games medalist including the 2016 Gold medal in Slopestyle, Spencer has won gold at the 2013 FIS World Championships and also claimed the 2012 World Snowboarding Championships.

From the time I began snowboarding at age 11, I have loved the sport. In the beginning it was just a hobby that I did on the weekends with my family, but as the years went on I realized how deep of a passion I had for it. As I grew into the sport, snowboarding gave me a platform upon which I could push myself and test the limits of my capabilities. In the 17 years since I started, I have participated in competitions around the world. I represented Canada in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, was awarded the gold medal at the 2016 X Games and was crowned World Champion twice. So many of these accomplishments were possible because of sport organizations like Canada Snowboard being inclusive of my participation as an Aboriginal athlete.

I belong to the Haida/Kwakwakw’wakw Nation, and I am one of only a handful of Olympians who come from Canadian First Nations. I am proud of my heritage and where I come from and I know there are so many more incredible aboriginal athletes who just need to be given a chance, an opportunity. I strongly believe that more work needs to be done by sport organizations across Canada to ensure Aboriginal athletes have the opportunity to participate in the sports they love. Whether that participation leads to a pursuit of excellence in their given sport or just the desire to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. A great example of this is the Canada Snowboard Aboriginal Snowboard program delivered in Partnership with the First Nations Snowboard Association.

Further, I encourage all sport leaders to read the Aboriginal Long-Term Participant Development Pathway Sport Organization Guide and take action to ensure their organizations are considerate of participation of Aboriginal athletes at all levels.



For more information on this program, please contact Canada Snowboard: vaqvtrabhf@pnanqnfabjobneq.pn 

Featured Video

Teenage Snowboarder Reconnects With First Nations' Culture

Canada’s First Nations Snowboard Team sponsors young Indigenous athletes. Team member Jonny Williams uses the sport to connect more deeply with his land and culture. Video by Grain Media

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