Queen's hosts national conference on Aboriginal physical activity

Queen's hosts national conference on Aboriginal physical activity

February 14, 2014


By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

A national discussion about promoting physical activity in Aboriginal communities will occur on campus next week.

“There will be people at the National Aboriginal Physical Activity (NAPA) conference who are on the ground promoting physical activity in Aboriginal communities, as well as faculty and students doing research in that area. The idea is we can all come together at this conference and share our ideas and evidence,” says Lucie Lévesque, an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies (SKHS).

Dr. Levesque and Janice Hill, Director, Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre (FDASC), worked in partnership with Rosalin Miles, Executive Director, Aboriginal Physical Activity and Cultural Circle, to host the second-annual conference. This year’s theme is “Healthy Action that Empowers Communities to Move.”

“The theme encompasses every way of moving, not necessarily going to the gym. It could be a medicine walk, playing lacrosse or basketball, or snowboarding,” says Dr. Lévesque, who has worked with Indigenous communities to eliminate health disparities related to physical inactivity. “Each community has different access to opportunities. The emphasis of the conference is on communities’ self-determination for getting people moving for their health.”

The workshops, discussions and research presentations cover a variety of topics including pre and post natal fitness, sports nutrition, and traditional sports and folk games. Ms. Hill is intrigued to hear Alex McComber of the Kahnawake School Diabetes Prevention Project.

“I would like to listen to Alex talk about community mobilization because I think that’s an issue we all face in our communities. I suppose it’s the same even with the Queen’s community: it’s hard to get people out to do things,” she says. “I know Alex has done amazing things in his community and to hear how he did it would be something really worth listening to.”

Ms. Hill is also looking forward to the talk by Olympic athlete Waneek Horn-Miller. The Mohawk from Kahnawake Territory near Montreal and water polo player represented Canada at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney.

“There is so much patriotism involved in the Olympics. I am interested to hear how that might have challenged her personally as a Mohawk raised in a traditional longhouse family,” says Ms. Hill.

The conference concludes with a traditional activity demonstration. FDASC has organized Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe dancing and drumming and a traditional feast. Attendees will also sign a document proclaiming June 21-25 National Aboriginal Physical Activity Awareness Week.

The NAPA conference takes place Feb. 19-22. More information