Aboriginal Sport Circle Announces the 2023 Tom Longboat Awards Recipients

September 22, 2023

The Aboriginal Sport Circle is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Tom Longboat Awards. This year's winners are Trina Ross and Connor Church, both of Manitoba. "It is an honour for the Aboriginal Sport Circle to celebrate the achievements of these outstanding athletes through the Tom Longboat Awards. Connor and Trina are recognized within their sport and are inspirational role models for Indigenous athletes across the country," states Rob Newman, ASC President.

Trina Ross is a proud Cree woman from Pimicakamak Cree Nation in Manitoba. Trina competes in the sport of dragon boat and has been involved in the sport for 11 years. She is touted as a trail blazer in rowing, and paddling and is seen as a role model for younger generations. Recently, she found success at the ICF Dragon Boat World Championships, which were held in in Racice, Czech Republic, representing Canada. Trina brought home eight medals - three gold, one silver and four bronze. Because of her accomplishments, she was awarded an Order of Sport Excellence by Sport Manitoba.

Trina expressed her shock: "To be honest, considering my age, I didn't expect to be chosen at all. When I received the news that I had been selected as the recipient of the Tom Longboat Award, I was surprised and happy. After passing on the news to friends and family, I see that they are very happy for me. I think this is the most rewarding thing ever."

Connor Church is Metis from Winnipeg, and is chasing his dreams of representing Canada at the Olympics in the sport of Wrestling. He has been wrestling for 13 years, and still has passion for the sport - usually being the first to arrive to practice and last to leave, often being told to "go home" by his coaches. Connor's dedication is obvious through his accomplishments. He holds many first and second place titles in National Championships in Junior and Senior age categories, he took first place in the U Sports Wrestling Championships, has been named the 2022-2023 Rookie of the Year. He also placed first, taking home gold medals at the Canada Summer Games, as well as the 25th Copa Sparta Tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Connor's successes and dedication to the sport, his community and his holistic health are evident in the fact that this is the second year in a row that he has been awarded the Tom Longboat Award.

"I am absolutely thrilled and deeply honored to accept the Tom Longboat Award. Thank you so much for this incredible recognition. I am truly grateful, and I look forward to being a part of the event," Connor gratefully stated.

In 1951, the Indian Affairs branch of the Canadian federal government created the Tom Longboat Awards to encourage Indigenous assimilation through organized sports. The awards were named after Tom Longboat, the famed Onondaga distance runner who passed away in 1949. Through the years, responsibility for the Tom Longboat Awards changed hands several times, eventually moving from government to Indigenous control, where it now stands as a proud emblem of Indigenous self- determination. The Aboriginal Sport Circle has managed and presented the award since 1999.

"This is the kind of legacy Tom Longboat would have been proud of. Now in its 72nd year, the Tom Longboat Awards stand as a testament to the long history of Indigenous excellence in sport. Much like Tom Longboat who competed more than a century ago, Connor and Trina are role models not only because they are outstanding athletes but also because they represent their cultures with pride." states Dr. Janice Forsyth, Vice President of the Aboriginal Sport Circle and author of "Reclaiming Tom Longboat: Indigenous Self-Determination in Canadian Sport".

The 2023 Tom Longboat Awards winners, Trina Ross and Connor Church, will formally receive their awards at the 2023 Canada's Sport Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which will be held on October 19, 2023, in Gatineau, QC.

For media inquiries please contact: ascoffice@aboriginalsportcircle.ca


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