New offering in Aboriginal sport and recreation adds career-enhancing advantage to students

(Edmonton) Students at the University of Alberta will have a new opportunity to boost their knowledge with the launching of a dynamic new certificate program in Aboriginal sport and recreation.

This certificate, unique in Canada, was jointly developed by the faculties of native studies and physical education and recreation, and is embedded within a student’s degree program. It is designed to afford them a value-added boost to their degrees and deepen their knowledge of the emerging field of Aboriginal peoples’ health and wellness through sport and recreation.

Tom Hinch, community and international engagement associate dean in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, says the certificate opens stimulating new learning vistas for students.

“This is an important field of study with a demonstrated need; thus, we jointly created this certificate program that offers a unique learning opportunity for students interested in Aboriginal sport and recreation,” he said.

Native studies interim dean Nathalie Kermoal said the certificate is a timely addition to the academic offerings on campus. “The last two decades have seen a rapid growth in the number of youth in Aboriginal communities across Canada. Research has demonstrated that participation in sport and physical activity plays a vital role in improving the health and well-being of youth and their communities,” she said.

“This certificate in Aboriginal sport and recreation will provide degree recipients with the relevant skills and qualifications they need to work productively and respectfully with Aboriginal communities to improve the lives of Aboriginal youth through sport and physical activity in the future.”

Tara-Leigh McHugh, a scholar in Aboriginal health and wellness in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, will be a key player in the delivery of the new certificate. She says it is marked by the close collaboration of two faculties to develop a common certificate program to the benefit of students.

“It’s a focused program with clear sequencing to facilitate students enrolling and embedding it within their program,” said McHugh.

The certificate is open to all students at the University of Alberta, provided they can dovetail it with their program and their particular degree permits them to enrol in it. It will be available for enrollment in fall 2011.