ILSA QUICK FACTS
Operating Since 2003
Formerly the First Nations Snowboard Team
Inducted into BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2018
Over 300+ active Indigenous youth each year
Creating role models for social change
3 Generations of active members
3 Parts to our Nonprofit: Clinics, Skateboard Donation Program and Free instructor and guide training
Current Activities: Snowboarding, Skateboarding, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, Alpine Hiking and Skiing
Potential Future Programs: Golf, Surfing, Horseback Archery and more...
BORN FROM A LEGACY, FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE
Building upon 16 years of success as the First Nations Snowboard Team, our membership and our communities have driven the next evolution of our non-profit. We are no longer a competitive team, instead, we are focused on unstructured sports and activities that benefit the mental health and physical well being our members. These are sports that don't require a team or practice date so we can minimize barriers to participation and introduce our members to activities that help them cope with their daily lives and our shared inter-generational trauma.
ILSA provides year-round programming, free access to training/certification programs and the opportunity to learn a lifelong sport, in a safe place, with other indigenous sport leaders.
"By providing Indigenous youth with unstructured and semi-structured sports alike, the Indigenous Life Sport Academy (ILSA) creates social change and development within Indigenous communities. ILSA provides Indigenous youth with opportunities to play, express themselves, improve both their mental and physical health, as well as learn skills such as snowboarding, skateboarding, biking, climbing, hiking, and golf that can benefit them long into their adult years. These healthy sport-based outlets assist in the relief of conscious and subconscious stresses induced by intergenerational trauma within indigenous communities."
Director - Hiking Programs
Myia Antone is a member of the Squamish Nation and runs our Grouse mountain programming as well as being the Director of our Alpine hiking programs. She is the founder of Indigenous Women Outdoors, a non-profit that empowers Indigenous women to participate and become leaders in the outdoor industry. As a Wilderness First Responder Myia has led various activity trips for local indigenous youth in BC, sharing her love for the lands her ancestors have occupied for generations. She is also passionate about the Squamish language and is currently a student in an advanced Squamish language program.
Director - Lil'wat Nation Lead
Sandy Ward of the Lil’wat Nation is the Director of our Biking and Climbing programs for the Lil’wat Nation. She was one of the founding members of the First Nations Snowboard Team, which is where she started snowboarding. Sandy now has 20 years of snowboarding under her belt and has been a competitive halfpipe rider, snowboard instructor and backcountry enthusiast. This has given her the opportunity to travel around the world and work in places like Japan and France. Sandy is currently working for Indigenous Women Outdoors together with its founder and fellow board member Myia Antone. In her spare time Sandy is an instructor on our snowboard program and an avid mountain biker and climber.
Founder and Executive Director
Court Larabee (traditional name: Siginaak aka Blackbird) is from Thunder Bay Ontario and is a member of the Anishinaabe and the Lac des Mille Lacs nations. He is our Executive Director and an Indigenous sports and community advocate, business owner, public speaker and snowboard enthusiast. Court is also the Indigenous Relations Specialist at Whistler Blackcomb and is passionate about empowering our local Indigenous community. As a result of his commitment and advocacy, Court was awarded the Rising Star of 2020 award by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. He was also the Vice President of the First Nations Snowboard Team, which later became ILSA. Outside of work you can find Court enjoying the mountain on his snowboard, going down a biking trail or spending quality time with his dog Sheba.
Director - Resort Relations
Founder of First Nations Snowboard Team
Aaron Marchant is our Director of Resort Relations and is a member of the Squamish Nation from West Vancouver. In 2004 Aaron founded the First Nations Snowboard Team through funds established as part of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. The First Nations Snowboard Team started with only 10 members, but through its success of reconnecting indigenous youth to the lands the organization grew to include hundreds of members from nations across Canada. In 2020 we decided to include more sports and focus on social change rather than competition, and thus the First Nations Snowboard Team became ILSA. As a dedicated champion for his community, Aaron is also the Special Projects Coordinator for the Squamish Nation. His love for snowboarding, which laid the foundation for the work we do today, remains unchanged.
Director - Snowboarding
Tim Russell is our Director of Snowboarding and has been coaching with the First Nation Snowboarding Team since 2011. Naturally, this has given him extensive knowledge of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountain (he knows all the best hidden powder spots). He is also a two time Irish snowboard champion as well as a highly regarded instructor and coach. Tim has a great passion for snowboarding, he loves teaching people and watching the excitement in their face when they land a new trick. He is also committed to Indigenizing his coaching practices with the team, from traditional ways of learning to storytelling and connection to the land. Tim is excited for the new era of ILSA and providing unstructured sport for Indigenous young people in the Sea to Sky.