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The Sport Information Resource Centre

(OTTAWA, Ontario – November 4, 2020) – The Aboriginal Sport Circle (ASC) is honoured to present the 2020 National Indigenous Coaching Awards (NICA). The prestigious NICA is awarded to one female and one male Indigenous coach annually who demonstrate outstanding contributions to Indigenous sport in Canada.

The 2020 NICA recipients are Veronica McDonald and Richard Pellissier-Lush.

Veronica McDonald (NWT)

Veronica McDonald is Dene and a decorated athlete and mainstay of the coaching community. She has acted with dedication and passion in her role as a Traditional Games Instructor with the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT since that program began, training each instructor who has gone through the program. She also steps up regularly to officiate the Traditional Games Championships.

Showing true commitment and initiative, Veronica founded Yellowknife Arctic Sports Club in 2019. As a testament to her effectiveness as a coach, everyone who trained with her group that year who tried out for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games made the team.

Veronica credits her grandfather as her first coach, who also coached her mother from a young age. Her mother, Meika, was also a decorated Arctic Sports athlete. Veronica competed in her first Arctic Winter Games at the age of 8, representing Team NT. Since then, she has continued to attend Arctic Winter Games competitions, racking up medals, awards, world records, and honours along the way. Veronica was the final torch bearer for the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games that were hosted in her home town of Fort Smith, NT. Veronica is fantastic athlete, inspiring coach, uplifting role model, and a much-deserving recipient of this year’s NICA awards.

Richard Pellissier-Lush (PEI)

For over 14 years, Richard—traditional name Kitpu Amalkewinu, or “Eagle Dancer,”—has coached football in PEI while building up his team and community through mentorship and role modeling.

A proud Mi’kmaq man from Lennox Island First Nation, Richard has been the recipient of lifetime achievement awards for his selfless dedication and passion. An inspiration for many, Richard is a Learning Facilitator for the “Aboriginal Coaching Module” (ACM) and has been educated and trained in how to help others reach one’s full potentials.


Richard was the creator and coach of the Flag Football team in Abegweit First Nation. Starting with hosting trial sessions to gain interest, Richard then held try-outs and—before too long—had attracted a full team of 14 youth, all engaged in playing. The growth and interest continued and, today, with help from another Coach and the Aboriginal Sport Circle, Richard now has 2 – 3 teams playing in different age categories—a huge achievement for a small demographic of youth in Scotchfort FN.

Now owner, general manager and player of senior men’s provincial tackle football team, he has taught through action how to derive a life full of happiness, love, and lifetime friendships through sport.

The NICA award acknowledges the growth and strength of the Indigenous sport movement in Canada, recognizing the impact Indigenous coaches have made on sport development from the community level all the way to elite level competition.

“The ASC is proud to acknowledge the contribution, dedication and passion these two remarkable individuals have made to Indigenous sport in Canada. Both Veronica and Richard embody and demonstrate what it means to win the National Indigenous Coaching Award,” said ASC President, Rob Newman.

For the 2020 program year, the nominations were reviewed by the National Selection Working Group who determined the national award recipients. The two national recipients will be presented with their awards at the Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Award Gala on November 5th, 2020. The event will be hosted as a free, one-hour event on Facebook Live through the Coaching Association of Canada.

The two national award recipients will receive a custom-made National Indigenous Coaching Award and a $1500 bursary to support coaching professional development.

For more information, please see https://www.aboriginalsportcircle.ca/coaching-awards.


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Media inquiries:
Kelsey Dayler
Aboriginal Sport Circle
kdayler@aboriginalsportcircle.ca

About the ASC:
The ASC is a collective of Provincial/Territorial Sport Bodies who guide the direction and establish its national priorities. We are Canada’s national voice for Aboriginal sport, physical activity and recreation bringing together the interests of First Nations, Inuit & Métis peoples.
For more information on the ASC, please visit www.AboriginalSportCircle.ca