The world just turned its attention to Toronto for the PGA TOUR’s RBC Canadian Open. Meanwhile, First Tee – Canada is also taking a moment to reflect in honour of National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day.
This month serves as a reminder to acknowledge that we live, work, and play on the unceded traditional homelands of Indigenous communities, stand with those who are impacted by residential school systems and ongoing colonial structures and policies, and celebrate Indigenous cultures, traditions, and heritage together.
Canada recognizes three groups of Indigenous peoples: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, each with unique histories, languages, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs. Nearly two million Canadians identify as Indigenous.
First Tee – Canada is made up of five chapters: First Tee – British Columbia, First Tee – Premier départ Quebec, First Tee – Atlantic, First Tee – Ontario
, and First Tee – Prairies, with First Tee – Alberta launching later this year.
Each chapter has unique and dynamic relationships with local Indigenous communities.
BC has the greatest diversity of Indigenous cultures in Canada. First Tee – British Columbia opened its first program location, The Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy, on traditional Musqueam First Nation territory in 2021.
Since then, it has expanded to over 53 program spaces and sold out every session this year. This summer, CPCK Women’s Open will be held at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club, which is also located on Musqueam traditional territory. During tournament week, First Tee – British Columbia will host youth clinics at Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy, offer behind-the-scenes tours of the event grounds for local community groups, and provide children with positive experiences through golf.
Being home to more than 200 First Nations, First Tee – British Columbia hopes to continue to strengthen its existing relationships with Indigenous communities, but also strives to expand its network and collaborate with additional Indigenous communities across the province.
In Quebec, there are over 40 Indigenous communities across the province. First Tee – Premier départ Quebec currently collaborates with the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, the Cree community of Waskaganish, and the First Nation of Mashteuiatsh through First Tee golf course, school, and community programming.
The Quebec team also works closely with the Club 24 Athletics Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting young Indigenous leaders through sport and education.
Last year, First Tee – Premier départ Quebec hosted programming for 18 Indigenous participants. The team hopes to more than double that number this year.
In the Kahnawake First Nations reserve, there are seven golf courses in under 50 km. The community’s volunteer coaches are introducing as many children as possible to golf through First Tee, developing multisport athletes to open more doors in their futures.
First Tee – Premier départ Quebec has been able to provide most programming at no cost to participants, with an entirely Indigenous coaching staff.
Ontario is home to over 23 percent of all Indigenous peoples in Canada.
First Tee – Ontario currently works with Anishnabeg Outreach Kitchener and Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre to offer First Tee community programming at their locations throughout the summer and will provide an on-course fun day at nearby golf courses this summer, too. Ahkwesahsne Mohawk Board has also come on board and will offer First Tee school programming this fall.
Additionally, last week, First Tee – Ontario coaches supported Golf Ontario’s Indigenous Try Golf Day event held at Sandusk Golf Club and led First Tee programming for children who attended the event.
First Tee – Prairies and First Tee – Atlantic are in the beginning stages of building relationships with Indigenous communities within their provinces, but hope to launch programming soon, some even this summer.
The continued focus for First Tee – Canada is to build out community hubs of accessible pathways for golf participation through community centres, schools, and golf courses, ensuring the sport of golf reflects the strengths of Canada’s diversity.
Each chapter is dedicated to building trusting and authentic relationships with community organizations, stakeholders, and volunteers in their provinces to provide support for equity-deserving groups, including Indigenous communities.