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Sam on Sports: Mark Peltier

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Mark Peltier was able to start the Badminton Warriors of Mnidoo Mnising with some federal funding. – Photo courtesy Mark Peltier

By Sam Laskaris

WIIKWEMKOONG UNCEDED TERRITORY – Sometimes all it takes is an idea to have some great things happen.

For example, take Mark Peltier’s initiative. Peltier, a member of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, works as a healthy living youth program coordinator for the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre, one of 10 First Nation health access centres across the province.

The Noojmowin Teg Health Centre services all seven First Nations located on Manitoulin Island, including programming for members of those seven First Nations who live off-reserve.

As part of his job, Peltier assists the Centre with providing programming for Indigenous youth in numerous sports, including hockey, soccer, golf, basketball, volleyball, bowling, swimming, and badminton.

Back in 2021, while looking to expand the Centre’s badminton programming, Peltier thought it would be prudent to apply for a grant through Sport Canada and its Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities program.

The proposal was accepted. Including in-kind contributions, the two-year grant was worth $80,000.

With the provided funding, Peltier was able to purchase about 150 badminton racquets, about 3,000 shuttlecocks, and also rent out various facilities so a new club, the Badminton Warriors of Mnidoo Mnising, would have various venues on the island to play out of.

The federal funding also enabled Peltier to take club members to an out-of-town cultural experience.

Originally, the plan was to travel to Markham, just north of Toronto, to train with some elite-level coaches, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those plans were nixed.

Instead, club members travelled to North Bay last month where they received some coaching at the KTP Racquet Club.

Some other positives also resulted from the federal funding. Peltier was able to purchase a Knight Trainer Pro. This machine, which comes with a laptop, is programmed to release shuttlecocks to precise locations and with varying degrees of speed. This training machine can be utilized by both singles and doubles players, allowing them to improve their game.

The federal funding also enabled Peltier to organize the inaugural Manitoulin Island elementary school badminton championships this past spring.

A total of 28 athletes, representing seven schools, participated in that competition, which was held in Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation.

Girls’ singles, boys’ singles, and mixed doubles categories were contested at that meet.

Peltier was hoping the federal grant would be extended for another term, but unfortunately, it was not.

But the Island’s elementary school tournament is now expected to become a fixture, becoming annual event for Manitoulin Island sports calendar.

The winners are all the youth who have benefited from Peltier’s badminton programming.

Though the sport is not as popular as basketball, hockey, or soccer, it is still a sport. Any activity that can get youth involved in some healthy exercise is worth celebrating.

And Peltier himself, was one of the adults who were being celebrated last month.

That’s because he was one of 15 individuals that were presented with an Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards.

The accolades, presented during National Coaches Week, were handed out by the Coaches Association of Ontario, in partnership with Hydro One.

Peltier’s award included $500 to be utilized towards the purchase of new equipment and/or tools.

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