Who We Are
Spirit North connects, empowers, and inspires Indigenous children and youth. Together with our partners, we help communities to move from introductory cross-country ski days to community-led, sustainable programs that promote lifelong well-being.
Our collaborative, play-based approach engages children in sport and activity. Spirit North ski days are active, inclusive and focused on participation.
We recognize that the most successful programs are community led and owned. To achieve this, we can provide communities with:
- Cross-country ski coaching certification from the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP)
- Alignment of programs with the Aboriginal Long Term Participant Development Pathway (ALTPD)
- Competitive event support
- Trail development
- Program support
- And of course, skis!
Mission & Vision
Our mission is a commitment to improving the health and well-being of Indigenous children and youth through the transformative power of sport and play.
We believe every child deserves a chance to dream – and the confidence to pursue that dream.
Our vision is to break down the racial and socio-economic barriers facing Indigenous children, youth and their communities. We use sport to empower students and build skills that can enhance every part of their lives.
Spirit North was founded in 2009 to introduce Indigenous youth to cross-country skiing and the fundamental joy of movement. We began with four participating communities. Today, Spirit North works in more than 30 Indigenous communities across Western Canada and reaches about 6,000 youth every year.
An afternoon on skis can give children and youth a glimpse of their own potential. It builds skills and helps them to learn and grow. Sport provides physical, mental and social connections that can inspire meaningful, lifelong change.
Thanks to our generous sponsors, Spirit North programs are free for the communities we work in.
Meet The Team
Board of Directors
Barbara serves as senior strategic counsel on a broad portfolio of clients and has 20 years marketing and communications experience in a range of sectors including energy, financial services, retail, pharmaceutical, loyalty, non-profit and government. Barbara holds a B.Sc. (Hons) and an MBA from Queen’s University. She has also attended Executive Business School at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University.
Kikino Elementary School Principal Laurie Thompson is a life-long resident of the Kikino Métis Settlement, and embraced the Spirit North program for her school over five years ago. She actively initiated an after-school ski club, developed a leadership component to the program, and encouraged families and community members to become involved. Students in the program now compete in events across Alberta. Laurie was recently named one of Shaw’s 50 Outstanding Canadians.
Andy is a seasoned business owner in sustainable development, clean technology, and renewable energy in small, remote communities across Canada, the U.S. and Latin America. A longtime volunteer in cross-country skiing, events and trail building, Andy loves nothing more than having fun outside while learning (he even volunteered to work with us!). In the summer, he can be found biking, paddling, and attempting to catch some elusive fish.
As an experienced and passionate non-profit leader, Rob has a successful history of innovation, collaborative leadership, and relationship building with proven management, communication, political and business acumen, and fundraising abilities. He has also delivered community-based programs at the local, regional, and international level for various NGOs. Rob is a passionate naturalist, outdoor enthusiast, skier, hiker, and avid fly fisherman. He moved to the Bow Valley in order to lead the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. Prior to that, he held various positions as a project lead, engaging volunteers, helping groups work together, and developing programs for youth at risk.
A pediatrician who works part-time in Yellowknife doing general pediatrics and travel clinics for a variety of communities in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, Dr. Wong is also a part-time hospital pediatrician at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, where he does inpatient care four weeks a year. Conducting travel clinics in Saddle Lake and High Level in northern Alberta, Dr. Wong was most recently the chair of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Health Committee of the Canadian Pediatric Society.
Since 1998, Jude Daniels has worked in the oil and gas sector as a senior legal counsel and as a senior Aboriginal Relations adviser and manager. She has worked with both Canadian companies and Indigenous communities extensively on regulatory matters and the economic, social and environmental effects in Indigenous communities.
Jude is a part-time hearing commissioner with the Alberta Energy and a former part-time member of the Federal Social Security Tribunal. The focus of her private law practice is: employment law, regulatory law, socio-economic agreement negotiations, Aboriginal consultation, environmental law and traditional knowledge matters. Jude has written “Métis History and Experience and Residential Schools in Canada” published by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, and co-authored “Métis Memories of Residential School”.
Jude holds degrees in Law and Social Work and has a certificate in conflict resolution. She is also a yoga instructor and mediator. She is a member of the Law Society of Alberta, the Indigenous Bar Association and the Métis Nation of Alberta. Jude lives in Canmore with her family.