Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Chief Wilton Littlechild shared some sage advice on June 21.
An accomplished athlete, lawyer, Indigenous rights advocate, and former federal politician who also served as a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Littlechild was in Calgary on Tuesday.
He delivered an educational keynote at Central Library, which was held in conjunction with National Indigenous Peoples Day activities.
Organized by officials from Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in partnership with the federal government and the Calgary Public Library system, the event was broadcast on the hall’s Facebook page and YouTube channel as well as presented to an in-person audience.
The goal of the event was to raise awareness and celebrate Indigenous athletes and sport builders in Canada.
Littlechild was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
“I’m going to give you the formula for success, whether it’s in life, in sports or in business,” Littlechild said during his keynote.
“I once asked one of our Elders, how do you become a Canadian champion, because he was a Canadian champion in roping. And his son became a world champion in roping.”
The Elder said four things, but in one word.
“He said ‘Balance’. You want to be an Honours student, you want to be a successful businessman or person, you want to be a champion athlete, the one-word formula is Balance.”
Littlechild then elaborated on the advice.
“I didn’t really understand that until quite a bit of time later, because the balance he was talking about is like this room here,” he said. “It has a strong foundation. Now the foundation of the four walls is like a foundation of life.”
For starters, one wall might be a physical wall and the elements of life, he said.
“Young students, be careful of what you put in your mind and your mouth because you’re to take care of yourself physically,” he said. “Take care of your body through exercise.”
A second wall is an emotional one or mental wall.
“And that teaches you to be disciplined in whatever you do, to be determined, to have a strong desire in whatever you want to accomplish,” Littlechild said.
Yet another wall might be the cultural wall.
“Be proud of who you are,” Littlechild said. “It doesn’t matter what you were called as a child or are being called as a child. Be proud of who you are.”
Littlechild said the most important wall is the spiritual one.
“That’s the balance he was talking about,” he said. “Don’t overbalance the physical and ignore the mental, or ignore the cultural. Most of all (don’t) ignore the spiritual because the spiritual is the key. Without that spiritual foundation, or wall in this building, the building crumbles.”
Remember that one word—balance, he said. “It will work for you in sports. It will work for you in school. And it will work for you in life.”
Littlechild also told his audience it’s important to set both athletic and educational goals.
“It’s not only setting the goal that is important, it’s getting the goal,” he said. “So not just setting but also getting the goal.”
Littlechild spoke about reconciliation and what he believes is its true meaning.
“Reconciliation is having good relations,” he said. “To restore respectful relationships is reconciliation.”
Littlechild believes progress is being made on the reconciliation front across the country.
“There’s a lot of good things happening in Canada right now on reconciliation,” he said. “And the leader, the pioneer in industry in leading the reconciliation is the sports industry. I know I say that in a biased way, but it’s true.”
As proof, Littlechild said he delivered a land acknowledgement prior to a Canadian Football League game this past Saturday between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the host Edmonton Elks.
A videotaped land acknowledgement from Littlechild was also shown prior to every home game of the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers this season.
“Sport has the power to change the world,” Littlechild said. “Sport has the power to inspire. Sport has the power to bring people together. Sport has the power to speak a language that you as children and youth can understand.”
To improve relations in the country, Littlechild said all Canadians have a role to play.
“It’s going to take all of us to have reconciliation in Canada,” he said.
Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.