By Sam Laskaris
MEMBERTOU FIRST NATION, N.S
Krista Devoe is far from a household name. That’s why the 32-year-old Mi’kmaw was surprised to find out she had been named to a prestigious national list.
Earlier this month officials from the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) released its Most Influential Women List for 2016.
The 20 individuals selected to the list were picked for their inspirational efforts either at the local, national or international levels.
Devoe, the physical activity strategy co-ordinator for Nova Scotia’s Membertou First Nation, was one of those fortunate to be named to the list.
Devoe was one of four individuals named to the list via the Builder category. She was also declared the overall winner in the category.
The CAAWS list, which was first released in 2000 and is now released annually, was subdivided this year into five categories.
Others were named to the list via the Athlete, Coach, Media and Ones To Watch (restricted to those 30 and under) categories.
“I had not one clue it was coming,” Devoe said of her accolade. “When I got the emails about it I was surprised.”
Devoe is still having a tough time comprehending that she was included on the list.
“I feel like I am a little fish in a big pond,” she said.
Others who were the overall winners in their categories were Jen Kish, a member of the Canadian women’s rugby sevens club that captured the bronze medal at last year’s Rio Olympics in Brazil, and swimmer Penny Oleksiak, who won four medals in Rio.
Kish was named to the list via the Athlete category while Oleksiak was included through the Ones To Watch grouping.
Chantal Vallee, the University of Windsor women’s basketball coach, and Lori Ewing, a sports reporter with The Canadian Press, were the overall winners in the Coach and Media categories, respectively.
“That is one esteemed list of ladies,” Devoe said. “They’re so accomplished. It’s such an honour to be anywhere near this list.”
Devoe was honored in part because she is viewed as a trailblazer not only in her community but also in Nova Scotia as well.
Back in 2013, Devoe polled Membertou First Nation members, through online and paper surveys, to determine how physically active they were and to figure out where they wanted to be in terms of their activity lifestyles in five years.
With the results of that poll Devoe developed a physical activity strategy. Besides being accepted on the Membertou First Nation, the program has been adopted by nine of the 13 Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia.
To sustain the program Devoe successfully built up numerous relationships and partnerships. For example, she forged a partnership with an area YMCA to allow community members to join the facility.
With the YMCA’s assistance, Devoe also began a swimming program, aimed at providing some leadership qualities in young women in the community.
Devoe also spoke about the physical activity strategy she developed at an Edmonton conference in 2015. She’s hoping the program will eventually expand outside her home province.
“It is catching some eyes across the country,” she said.
Devoe graduated from the Island Career Academy in Sydney, N.S. in 2010. She completed a two-year Child and Youth Care Work program.
Upon graduation, Devoe worked three years for the Native Council of Nova Scotia. After that she began working at her current job.
She was also asked to sit on a committee when the Nova Scotia government created a physical activity course for practitioners, in conjunction with officials from Dalhousie University and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Devoe also served as the athletic and registration co-ordinator for last year’s Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games, which were held in her First Nation. And she will serve as the co-chair of the Recreation Nova Scotia Conference which the Membertou First Nation will host this September.
This will also mark the third year that Devoe has been involved with the Team Atlantic entries at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC).
She first volunteered to assist with operational details for both the Atlantic girls’ and boys’ teams that participated at the national tournament in Halifax in 2015.
She helped out once again with both teams prior to and during their participation at the 2016 NAHC, which was held in Mississauga, Ont.
Devoe will also be joining the Atlantic clubs as they travel to this year’s tourney, scheduled for May 1-6 in Cowichan, B.C.