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Physical activity, mental wellness among concerns for RPAN amid pandemic

With the current lockdown measures in Nunavut, some immediate winter programming has been impacted.

“Certainly with the recent shutdown with the RPAN (Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut) programs, we were supposed to be doing some of our training with our winter initiatives that start after Christmas, we had to postpone that,” said Dawn Currie, executive director for RPAN.

The wrestling team takes a break from training in Cambridge Bay on March 7 for what would have been preparation for the Arctic Winter Games. The Games were cancelled on March 7. The Arctic Winter Games was one among many sporting events to be cancelled in 2020.
photo courtesy Paula Cziranka

RPAN helps support recreation and recreation and sport organizations in the territory, and various tournaments, events and programs have been affected by past and current lockdowns in 2020.

The lockdown from earlier in 2020 has also had its impacts on sports in the territory.

“I think it’s kind of been affected right from the start, the territorial sport organizations. It's been tough for those communities, getting sport going in those communities,” said Scott Schutz, who works with Volleyball Nunavut and is the program coordinator for RPAN.

“In volleyball's case, because it’s mainly who I work with, in their case one of the biggest issues is we weren’t able to have our territorials this year, our territorial championships.”

“All the other sport organizations are in the same boat, there’s a lot of youth in those communities that are missing out, really on those tournaments.”

Part of dealing with decreased travel between communities is working in helping build more local capacity for programming in the various communities.

“We’re fortunate, we’re still planning on going ahead because we’re not doing any inter-community travel stuff so we’re really looking to utilize some of our young leaders in the communities and get them more involved and trained in working with our programs,” said Currie.

They aren’t without their concerns however in keeping students active in Nunavut.

“We’re trying to put a positive spin on everything, there are so many unknowns,” Currie adds.

“Recreation and sport is such a backbone to the communities in terms of what they do after school and in-school.”

Part of those concerns include trying to keep youth and students active during a time of reduced sporting and recreation activities available.

“Gyms have just opened up probably a month ago and now with the gyms closing again,” said Schutz,

“It's hurt sport I think in a big way in competing, my biggest thing is trying to get kids active, getting youth active.”

“I think people are afraid and they’re taking it very seriously to try and stay indoors within their home environments, but it’s a challenge without question,” added Currie.

“Our concern is the mental wellness of people in the communities when you have nothing to do and you’re already in closed, confined areas.”

Among the factors impacting sport and recreation is future funding being impacted by Covid response further into the future.

“A lot of funding has been reallocated to different parts of Covid responses and that’s fair enough,” said Currie.

“A concern would be any funding that maybe reduced going forward, I think that we’re fortunate that a lot of our partners, government or non-government partners have recognized the value of recreation.”

She adds “but when the money’s all spent and the next year comes that’s going to be a factor looking ahead.”

“There’s a number of different rippling kinds of effects that Covid has and maybe we weren't even really aware of the effect.”

Among the financial impacts Covid-19 has on sport and recreation are organizers who rely on grants.

“Certain partners are not reviewing grant applications right now, so even if you want to plan for something you don’t know if your funding is gonna get approved.”

They do remain optimistic for the near future however.

“Right now obviously things aren’t going great with the spike in cases in Nunavut,” said Schutz. “But I think hopefully as time goes by, things will start to calm down and hopefully the vaccines comes out in the near future and we can try to get back to what the new normal is going to be.”

From funding and programming concerns to keeping youth active at this time there are a lot of factors impacting recreation and sporting programs and organizations according to RPAN.

“It’s a hard time for everyone, and the recreation and sport partners are trying to do the best that we can do (to) support the communities and the communities can’t wait to get back into their arenas or gyms, so hopefully this doesn’t extend too much longer,” said Currie.