Siksika Health Participates in MRU’s Adaptive Physical Activity Symposium

On March 3 & 4, 2023, Mount Royal University hosts a weekend of learning, research, and connection. This multidisciplinary symposium aims to foster community and enhance inclusivity of physical activity and sport across the province, for all Albertans experiencing disability.

A Community Advisor for Calgary’s Adaptive Hub, Siksika Health Services’ Dr. Tyler White opened the symposium with a presentation about the significance of adaptive physical activity on Siksika Nation.

Dr. White shared that “Siksika people often communicate that individuals with unique needs are special gifts from Creator, and were historically referred to as Pissatsipokiaayawa, or ‘special children’. They express that these people are closer to Creator, as they are pure in spirit, and have unique skills to adapt and communicate with their families. Families and friends of our special children stress that a label of disability does not define a person, but rather, it focuses on a person’s strengths.”

There are no words for “disability” in the Blackfoot language, and quite often you’ll hear stories shared of people’s strengths who had a disability. The concept of inclusion has always existed in our Siksika way of life.

Adaptive Physical Activity aligns with this belief, and values every individual’s strengths and interests to match them with appropriate activities.

Through collaboration with like-minded and like-hearted partners, such as Dr. David Legg at MRU’s Department of Health and Physical Education, the Calgary Adaptive Hub, the Autism and Asperger Friendship Society, Lacrossing Barriers, our Siksika Health Mental Health & Wellness and Siksika Recreation departments, and many others, we have been able to start to bring adaptive physical activity to Siksika in a good way.

Initiatives like the Adaptive Physical Activity Symposium give opportunity for us all to show our support by honouring and celebrating peoples’ diversity through community consensus program development, spreading awareness, and promoting inclusion in sports.

Together, we strive for equity in health and wellness for all, and we demonstrate acceptance and inclusion in all aspects of life. Adaptive sports are sports, and all people matter.