As Rugby Canada continues to celebrate Indigenous History Month, we spotlight one of the 2021 Community Rugby Fund recipients, the Comox Valley Rapids Rugby Association, who hosted an Indigenous rugby day in April. Join the conversation on social media using #NIHM2022.
June 21, 2022 (Comox, BC) – In 2021, the Comox Valley Rapids Rugby Association applied to the HSBC Community Rugby Fund with the goal of introducing rugby to as many youths in the Comox Valley as possible while removing barriers to sport for Indigenous children and lower income families.
For their first of two projects being conducted with the help of the HSBC Community Rugby Fund, the Rapids Rugby program partnered with Comox Valley School District and Thunder Indigenous Rugby to provide a full day of rugby to Indigenous students from all 20 schools in the district.
After months of planning, on April 28, 2022 the first-ever Indigenous Rugby Day in the Comox Valley School District was held in conjunction with the Comox Valley Rapids Rugby Association. The event welcomed over 80 Indigenous students in grades six to eight to G.P Vanier Secondary School. Players were divided into groups to start the day and were led by guest coaches from Rugby Canada, Thunder Rugby and the University of Victoria Vikes. Participants were taught basics skills and concepts of the sport in a non-contact format and finished the day with games of flag rugby.
“Rugby is growing in the Comox Valley and we are very excited to introduce the sport to Indigenous students,” said Cheryl Graham, event co-organizer and Indigenous Support Worker for the local school district. “It was inspiring to have the support of so many different people and groups to make this event possible.”
Local Elder Fernanda Paré of Kwakwaka’wakw, Namgis, K’ómoks and Carrier Sekani ancestry welcomed students to the event. Elder Rick Peters (traditional name is Sitaluk) from Khowutzun Nation also sang and drummed as part of the welcoming.
Rapids Rugby and the Comox Valley School District have already started making plans for the 2nd Annual Indigenous Rugby Day for spring 2023.
The next phase of the Rapids’ project, supported by the Community Rugby Fund initiative, will aim to offer Rookie Rugby sessions to students in grades six to seven, in schools around the Comox Valley area, once per week for six weeks during school hours. This plan will expose close to 350 boys and girls to rugby in fun and non-contact environment with their peers.