In 2015, the Unama’ki Sport Association held its first Unama’ki Riders snowboarding program. The goal was to provide youth ages 12 to 18 with the opportunity to learn how to snowboard.
Since then, the program has continued to grow and provides an opportunity for Aboriginal youth to be active throughout the winter months.
Winner of a 2018 Women Active Nova Scotia Trendsetter Award, the Unama’ki Riders program has been celebrated for connecting youth from underrepresented groups; including those who face social, physical, and financial barriers to physical activity opportunities.
Currently, over half of the participants are female.
Through the work of the Unama’ki Sport Association, the program is free for youth living in, or associated with, six First Nations communities located in the Cape Breton Island area. The First Nations communities are Eskasoni, Membertou, Paq’tnkek, Potlotek, Wagmatcook, and We’koma’q.
“There’s no better way to spend your Saturday than with youth and your amazing coworkers,” says Wally Bernard, one of the program’s coordinators.
For participants, it’s not just an opportunity to learn how to snowboard. It’s also the chance to become a leader. All participants are encouraged to complete the program and return as ambassadors or instructors in the future.
This helps make the program sustainable year after year. According to Krista Devoe, one of the organizers, the current program has four instructors who were previously participants.
If you live in one of the communities above and would like more information, please contact your community recreation representative or connect through the Unama’ki Riders’ Facebook page.