AN OPPORTUNITY TO REPRESENT
Through the Aboriginal Apprentice Coach Program, Creighton Sanipass has a chance to coach at the 2023 Canada Games and serve as a role model for young Indigenous athletes.
Kelsey Pye via Hockey New Brunswick June 16, 2022
As a hockey player, Creighton Sanipass often noticed a lack of Indigenous representation in the game. As a coach, he hopes to do something about it.
Through the Aboriginal Apprentice Coach Program, Sanipass is part of the New Brunswick coaching staff for the 2023 Canada Winter Games.
He wants to serve as a role model for young Indigenous athletes who may have had similar experiences with underrepresentation.
“I hope that Indigenous athletes see that there are opportunities to get involved and help the future generation of athletes get the chances that they rightfully deserve,” says Sanipass. “I am proud to be Mi’kmaq. Our culture has a history with the sport and it’s not just by chance that Indigenous hockey players feel so comfortable on the ice – it’s in our blood.”
Sanipass learned to skate at the age of two and began playing minor hockey at four. His father, Everett, played 164 NHL games during a six-year pro career and represented Canada at the 1987 IIHF World Junior Championship, so hockey was always a part of his life. The 6-foot-2 forward played in the Maritime Hockey League (MHL) with the Valley Wildcats and St. Stephen County Aces and in the New Brunswick Junior Hockey League (NBJHL) for the Tri-County River Cats, finishing with 21 points in 21 games in his final season.
Now, learning a different side of the game as a coach, he’s honoured to be participating in the program and wants others to do the same.
“I hope that more Indigenous coaches become involved and become a face for Indigenous hockey players to look up to and strive to be,” he says.
In addition to his role on New Brunswick’s U16 team, Sanipass was also part of the coaching staff with Team Atlantic at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Nova Scotia in May.
Off the ice, Sanipass is a university student majoring in criminology and works for Aboriginal Sport and Recreation New Brunswick.
“I’ve always wanted to have a job where I could help give opportunities to Indigenous youth that weren’t around when we were young,” he says. “Seeing Indigenous youth thrive makes it all worthwhile.”
It will be his first time attending the Canada Games, and he is excited to experience all the event has to offer, including the mentorship he’s receiving from more established coaches.
The Aboriginal Apprentice Coach Program provides up to two coaches per Canada Games from each province and territory the opportunity to develop their coaching skills. The program’s objectives include building coaching capacity within Aboriginal communities and providing coaches with professional development and learning opportunities for high-level coaching.
Sanipass will continue to absorb all he can on the road to Games, which are scheduled for Feb. 18 to March 5 across P.E.I., and beyond. He credits the sport with teaching him invaluable life skills and hopes he can pass that wisdom on to future players.
“I want to be an example. You can take everything that you have learned through your experiences and give back to the next generation. Up-and-coming athletes deserve the opportunities that might not have been around when we were younger, and we can be the reason that they are able to fulfill their potential.”