Past President, Sask Sport Inc.
Chair, KidSport Saskatchewan
Hometown: Meadow Lake
"When we look at the number of Aboriginal people who've been on Sask Sport Inc.'s Board and who are getting involved in sports now, I think we've seen significant strides in the last 10 years."
Dorothy Josephson has spent much of her life in Saskatchewan advocating for equal opportunities for all when it comes to sports. She feels there shouldn't be so many barriers in place preventing parents from enrolling their children in sports and, furthermore, a real collaborative effort is needed when working toward inclusivity in sport.
Josephson gained a lot of perspective on these issues during her time as a single mother, raising her children Jason and Anita in Regina in the late 1970s. Even though she hadn't participated in organized sport while growing up on a farm outside of Meadow Lake, by the time she was raising children of her own, she began to "pick up enough social consciousness" surrounding the importance of sports. "I think that I understood the structures of society. I was still pretty young - I was then in my early 20s - but I understood that you really needed to become a part of those communities to be accepted," said Josephson. "Sports gave my kids new friends, new interests, and developed their skills."
Josephson, a recreational canoer, ended up becoming the treasurer of the Saskatchewan Canoe Association after getting her children involved in sports. Her position made her realize the financial aspect of sports on families, whether they were headed by two parents or one. Many of her neighbours were single parents and she learned that by working together, families could overcome some of the obstacles surrounding sports. "We pooled our resources as far as driving kids to hockey games and practices," she said. "I probably had three or four relatively good friends at the time. We had enough needs that were common that we could kind of share some of the resources that we required."
With the all of these issues very much relevant toward her own life, it wasn't long before Josephson got involved in sport on a provincial scale. After receiving her Master's Degree in Business Administration, she began teaching night classes in Regina and met Sask Sport Inc. President Pat Stellek, who told her about the organization.
After taking some time to learn how Sask Sport Inc. was structured, Josephson was elected to the board of directors and served as the Vice-President of Program. She later went out to serve a term as President. Through her work with Sask Sport Inc., Josephson became involved as chairperson for two important initiatives: KidSport and the Aboriginal Sport Advisory Committee.
From the beginning, KidSport aimed to increase the accessibility of sporting opportunities to financially disadvantaged children. Having children of her own, Josephson was very interested in getting KidSport established. It took a real effort to reach out to the community to raise money and find volunteers. But that dedication has led to a program that, in 2013, distributed $158,447 to 428 children in Saskatchewan. "KidSport is all about giving people that first step," said Josephson. "It's giving people an opportunity to get a leg up on something - swim lessons or whatever they're interested in. It could be just one positive thing that turns somebody's life around."
Getting involved with the Aboriginal Sport Advisory Committee was more personal for Josephson since she has a Métis background. Josephson worked with Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) and Métis Nation of Saskatchewan (MNS) to create sport opportunities for the province's Aboriginal people. Participation in sports by Aboriginals in Saskatchewan has now increased to such an extent that instead of developing a new Aboriginal Sport Development Plan, Sask Sport Inc. has worked the desired outcomes of the plan into the overall organizational plan.
"When we look at the number of Aboriginal people who've been on the board and who are getting involved in sports now, I think we've seen significant strides in the last 10 years," said Josephson.
Through her work with Sask Sport Inc., Josephson is proud of the work that has been done to create a more inclusive sports environment in the province.
"I was probably almost finished my term as a board member before I truly appreciated how unique and how good our sports system is in Saskatchewan and I continue to be very proud it," she said.