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Sharon and Shirley Firth Inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame – Photos + Video

release by Canada Sports Hall of Fame
2015 Inductees [P] Peter Kraiker

November 02, 2015 (Toronto, ON) – On October 21, the Class of 2015 was inducted in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Toronto to celebrate the organization’s 60th anniversary. Among the inductees are sisters Sharon and Shirley Firth, two of Canada’s most outstanding Aboriginal athletes to compete at the Olympic Winter Games. They competed in cross-country skiing at the 1972 Sapporo Games.

“On the occasion of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame’s 60th anniversary, we are proud to be able to share the stories of the achievements of the Class of 2015 so that we can inspire all Canadians to be the best they can be in all aspects of life,” said Mario Siciliano, President and CEO, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. “Thanks to the support of our partner, Canadian Tire, and Michael Medline as our Honourary Chair, we are able to recognize these outstanding athletes and host the biggest celebration of sport in Canadian history.”

Firth star on the Walk of Fame [P] Peter Kraiker

For the second year in a row, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and Canadian Tire Corporation, a leading supporter of sport in Canada, have partnered on the annual event. Canadian Tire’s President and CEO, Michael Medline, helped induct this year’s distinguished athletes and sport “Builders” as a member of the Board of Governors of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and Honourary Chair of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Celebrations.

Firth [P] Peter Kraiker

“At Canadian Tire, we believe in the power of sport to rally the nation and define us on a global stage,” said Michael Medline. “We are incredibly proud to help Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame recognize this year’s inductees – a group of real heroes who have provided us with countless remarkable moments. Their accomplishments are a testament to what Canadians can achieve, serving as international ambassadors and inspirations to us all.”

Each inductee was presented with an official Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Honoured Member jacket at a morning news conference – the official symbol of the induction and Canada’s highest sporting honour. Honoured Members from across North America who attended the evening induction ceremony included Wayne Gretzky, Donovan Bailey, Catriona Le May Doan, Mark Tewksbury and Steve Bauer. The Class of 2015 will be featured in a new exhibit at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame’s international award-winning facility located at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta.

Sharon & Shirley Firth [P]

Sharon & Shirley Firth
Athletes, Cross Country Skiing
Sharon and Shirley Firth, twin sisters and members of the Gwich’in First Nation in the Northwest Territories, are two of Canada’s most outstanding Aboriginal athletes to compete at the Olympic Winter Games. The sisters participated in the Territorial Experimental Ski Training program that introduced cross country skiing to northern Canada and as a result, eventually became members of the first ever Canadian women’s cross-country ski team at the Sapporo 1972 Olympic Winter Games. In essence, they are truly pioneers of the sport.

Firth checking out her display at Canada's Sports Hall of Fame [P] Peter Kraiker

Sharon and Shirley took the many important lessons they learned while trapping and hunting in their remote home community of Aklavik, and translated these lessons into their success with the National Cross Country Ski Team. In total, they competed in four Olympic Winter Games (1972, 1976, 1980, 1984), four World Ski Championships, and were members of the National Cross-Country Ski Team for an unprecedented 17 consecutive years. The sisters together accumulated 79 medals at the national championships, including 48 national titles. These results remain unprecedented. Nobody in Canada has come close to accumulating these numbers.

Firth [P] Peter Kraiker

Following their outstanding athletic careers, Sharon devoted her time to work as a Youth Programs Advisor in the NWT while Shirley went on to live in France where she raised a family and lectured on the Dene and Inuit cultures. When Shirley returned home to the NWT in 2004, the sisters reunited and worked together, teaching youth about sport, goals, leadership and responsibility. Theirs is an inspiring message, delivered from their hearts and developed from their personal experiences living in a small community, and driving themselves to move ever forward through the sometimes difficult times in their lives to become the best they could be.

Firth display [P] Peter Kraiker

Together, these two sisters broke down the many barriers in sport that they faced and shared their passion for the sport of cross country skiing with all Canadians. The sisters spoke of the values they learned from their mother, that you do not get anything free in life, that you have to work for it, which they certainly did. These incredible women, their storyand legacy continues to inspireIndigenous youth through their values of hard work, determination and self-responsibility, and the right to dream of achieving anything you wish. In 2013, Shirley succumbed to cancer at the age of 59, leaving a huge void in Shirley’s family as well as in Sharon’s life. But their strong connection remains un-severed, continuing to push Sharon to reach out to Youth, through the sport of cross country skiing, and in so doing, an inspiration to all Northerners and Canadians.

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