By Nancy Killen, submitted 2019
Carson Roche ('18), from the community of Deline, N.W.T.—accessible only by air or ice roads—came to Augustana Campus in the Fall of 2013. After years of harbouring the ambition to pursue the field of sport, with an interest in sharing sport with indigenous youth, Carson began a course of study that would allow his dream to reach fruition.
It was a recruitment visit from Augustana to St. Patrick High School in Yellowknife, N.W.T. that motivated Carson to consider Augustana—a small campus that promised a competitive athletics program and opportunities to connect with professors on a first-name basis. Although the chocolate milk fountain was likely the highlight of the conversation, the programs also promised to advance his goals.
Despite formerly playing soccer and hockey, Carson tried out for the Augustana Men’s Volleyball Team his first year and secured a membership that would span four years. As it turns out, his Augustana collegiate sport adventure had begun and would only continue to grow! Year two found him playing soccer, and during his final year, he also played on the men’s golf team, placing second at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Provincials, taking him to nationals. Through his travels with the Vikings, his work as the Indigenous Student Representative on the Augustana Students’ Association and his connections with professors and peers, Carson feels he was able to take advantage of all Augustana had to offer.
Carson also cites that his time at Augustana is what has given him the skills and experience to excel as a Community Coordinator for the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the Northwest Territories. Through his work with this non-profit organization, he shares his goal of furthering the development of Indigenous culture through sport and athletics. Carson’s vision is to revitalize the use of traditional games by responding to requests from many remote communities for his active teaching experiences. To make his goals a reality, he travels extensively throughout the territory to teach Dene, Inuit and other traditional games. But the remote locations can be challenging. At times, weather or distance can add unexpected costs and extensions to his schedule. One must be prepared for the possibility of a blizzard spontaneously causing a two-week delay; however, when Carson witnesses students learning the cultural relevance behind the games he shares, he is rewarded for all of his efforts.
Carson believes in the potential of northern Indigenous youth, as reflected in his words about his roots and opportunities: “Coming from Deline where I was the sole graduate my year to attend post-secondary school and the first to play a sport at a collegiate level, I feel a sense of responsibility. I want to give back to the communities. There are a lot of opportunities for Indigenous youth to excel and go further with education. I do what I do because I want the youth to know that it is possible. I did it. It was tough, but I still did it.”
Since graduating in December of 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education, northern youth have benefited from Carson’s devotion and will continue to find promise in his passion, experience and teaching.