A decade of growth for First Nation Snowboard Team 

APTN show features local snowboarders

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BARRY GRAY - work in progress Warrior Games host Steve Sxwithul'txw learns the ins and outs of snowboarding from the First Nation Snowboard Team.
  • photo by barry gray
  • work in progress Warrior Games host Steve Sxwithul'txw learns the ins and outs of snowboarding from the First Nation Snowboard Team.

When Aaron Marchant founded the First Nation Snowboard Team (FNST) in 2004, the organization had only 10 members.

A decade later, the FNST boasts nearly 500 members in 21 different divisions across Canada.

"It's been growing because it's adapting. It's something new to go out and do," Marchant said.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, members of the FNST will be featured on APTN's Warrior Games — a show focusing on Aboriginal youth and sports.

In an episode filmed in Whistler, members of the FNST from the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations teach host Steve Sxwithul'txw the ins and outs of snowboarding.

The national exposure could help drive further growth in the club, Marchant said.

"There's a possibility other First Nations in Canada will see what we're doing at Whistler Blackcomb and what we've been doing, and they will find out how they can get involved," he said.

"Normally after something airs on APTN we do get some phone calls from other First Nations in the country, and we just share what we've developed with our program here and help them get a program started."

For Sxwithul'txw, the experience was an enjoyable one.

"It was fantastic. I learned some fine techniques; I learned some new terminology, such as 'shredding,'" he said with a laugh.

"I learned balance, how to survive when you're falling down, and how to give encouragement to fellow team members that are there."

Through Warrior Games, Sxwithul'txw has explored the relationship between sports and First Nations people.

"My opinion is that it's a huge aspect of our lives as First Nations people, as we compete at every level in any type of genre in any type of sport across the country," he said.

"I think that youth need to embrace that a lot more than they have today, and keep that alive for generations to come."

And while snowboarding may not be considered a traditional First Nations sport, it's one that's been growing immensely in recent years, Sxwithul'txw said.

"This is a sport that local youth up and down the Sea to Sky corridor are taking on and enjoying," he said.

And once they get involved the sport can have long-lasting positive effects on a young person's life, Marchant said.

"I think it's important for all Canadians to be active, but for First Nations, providing a positive opportunity to be active, they start to go up in groups and it starts to become a life sport for them," he said.

"It translates into their life... they start to get more confident and it's great to see."

And First Nations heritage might not be entirely removed from modern-day snowboarding, Marchant said.

"I wouldn't say it's traditional, but I imagine a long time ago, thousands of years ago, they probably had stuff to slide down the hill with," he laughed.

Warrior Games airs Saturdays on APTN.

For more information on the FNST, visit www.fnriders.com.



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