By TRT Staff with notes from aboriginalsportcircle.ca
GATINEAU, QUEBEC — On September 22, 2023, the Aboriginal Sport Circle were pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Tom Longboat Awards, the awards 72nd year.
This year’s winners were Trina Ross and Connor Church, both of Manitoba. Both were honoured at the 2023 Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, on October 19, in Gatineau, QC, where they were presented their awards.
Ross is a Cree woman from Pimicakamak Cree Nation in Manitoba. Ross 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.
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. Church’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.
According to the Aboriginal Sport Circle, 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.