Aboriginal Recreation, Leisure and the City of Calgary



An Excerpt



The purpose of this paper is to understand the specific types of leisure and recreation opportunities that the City of Calgary can begin offering to Aboriginal Calgarians in order to counteract the many grave social and health issues facing the City’s Aboriginal people. Through the use of community driven research, City of Calgary — Aboriginal Services’ survey findings over a two-year period of time are used to make recommendations for specific physical education, physical activity, sport, recreation and, in particular, cultural activities, all of which can provide unique preventive strategies that are much more powerful and cost effective than reactive treatments. Statistics Canada (2001b) notes that leisure/recreation can be divided into four types:

  • Cognitive (e.g. reading, gaming, taking vocational courses, puzzling);
  • Physical (e.g. competitive sports, fitness-training, walking);
  • Social (e.g. visiting in person or on the phone);
  • Passive (e.g. watching TV or listening to the radio).

Within the above categories, the first three are considered to be active and the fourth passive forms of leisure. Leisure or recreation, while considered to be the pursuit of any of the above, is often not recognized as potentially contributing to positive communal or societal advancement. Where, then, would Aboriginal concepts and manifestations of recreation and leisure fit? For example, where would hoop dancing fit, with its physical, spiritual, and community demands? What of the elements of creative expression? Similarly, beadwork has a physical dynamic, but it is essentially creative. “Arts,” as they are perceived in the contemporary and traditional Aboriginal communities, do not seem to be well-captured in this and other mainstream frameworks (Statistics Canada, 2005).

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