GLOOSCAP - Jordan Smith has an important role with a complicated title. She’s with the Mi’kmaq physical activity leadership program and is an active living coordinator or MPAL coordinator.
She’s essentially in charge of getting the community more physically active through sport and active living, but it also touches on the community’s rich culture and heritage as well.
It’s a role with funding split between the Mi’kmaq communities and the Province of Nova Scotia.
“The MPAL program has kind of grown into something that’s bigger than first anticipated,” she said.
“It was first envisioned about six years ago. It was in the municipalities before, and the concept was, the municipalities are serving the Mi’kmaq communities, so everything’s fine. But they found that they weren’t actually making those connections,” Smith continued.
“It was good in theory, but not in practice, so they started getting the MPAL (coordinators) into the Mi’kmaq communities,” she said. “That has worked out really well.”
Out of the 13 Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia, 11 have MPAL coordinators, including Glooscap.
Smith said the MPAL coordinators go far beyond developing a community’s athletic abilities or skills.
She’s been doing it now for over three years.
“Active living is really our tool that we use, and through sports, as a way to build and enhance a community,” she said. “It’s more about having people coming together through physical activity to work towards a common goal.”
Smith is in constant contact with her fellow MPAL coordinators around the province, sharing strategies and connections with each other.
“My goal isn’t to just put on programming in the community, which leaves when I leave, it’s to get our community members trained as the yoga instructor, rather than hiring from outside,” she said. “We’re building that capacity from within.”
Introducing Team Kespukwitk
Smith was born and raised in the Annapolis Valley, living off reserve at the time, but proud of her roots and culture as a member of Glooscap.
She took kinesiology from Acadia University and worked for the previous MPAL coordinator before taking on the role herself.
“I grew up outdoors, that’s where my passion lies,” she said. “I played every sport under the moon when I was growing up.”
Some of the programs she’s promoted at Glooscap include archery, moose hunting, running, lacrosse, pow wow dancing and more.