As a hockey player, Creighton Sanipass often noticed a lack of Indigenous
representation in the game. As a coach, he hopes to do something about it.
Through the Aboriginal Apprentice Coach Program, Sanipass is part of the
New Brunswick coaching staff for the 2023 Canada Winter Games.
He wants to serve as a role model for young Indigenous athletes who may
have had similar experiences with underrepresentation.
“I hope that Indigenous athletes see that there are opportunities to get
involved and help the future generation of athletes get the chances that
they rightfully deserve,” says Sanipass. “I am proud to be Mi’kmaq. Our
culture has a history with the sport and it’s not just by chance that
Indigenous hockey players feel so comfortable on the ice – it’s in our
Sanipass learned to skate at the age of two and began playing minor hockey
at four. His father, Everett, played 164 NHL games during a six-year pro
career and represented Canada at the 1987 IIHF World Junior Championship,
so hockey was always a part of his life. The 6-foot-2 forward played in the
Maritime Hockey League (MHL) with the Valley Wildcats and St. Stephen
County Aces and in the New Brunswick Junior Hockey League (NBJHL) for the
Tri-County River Cats, finishing with 21 points in 21 games in his final
Now, learning a different side of the game as a coach, he’s honoured to be
participating in the program and wants others to do the same.
“I hope that more Indigenous coaches become involved and become a face for
Indigenous hockey players to look up to and strive to be,” he says.
In addition to his role on New Brunswick’s U16 team, Sanipass was also part
of the coaching staff with Team Atlantic at the National Aboriginal Hockey
Championships in Nova Scotia in May.
Off the ice, Sanipass is a university student majoring in criminology and
works for Aboriginal Sport and Recreation New Brunswick.
“I’ve always wanted to have a job where I could help give opportunities to
Indigenous youth that weren’t around when we were young,” he says. “Seeing
Indigenous youth thrive makes it all worthwhile.”
It will be his first time attending the Canada Games, and he is excited to
experience all the event has to offer, including the mentorship he’s
receiving from more established coaches.
The Aboriginal Apprentice Coach Program provides up to two coaches per
Canada Games from each province and territory the opportunity to develop
their coaching skills. The program’s objectives include building coaching
capacity within Aboriginal communities and providing coaches with
professional development and learning opportunities for high-level
Sanipass will continue to absorb all he can on the road to Games, which are
scheduled for Feb. 18 to March 5 across P.E.I., and beyond. He credits the
sport with teaching him invaluable life skills and hopes he can pass that
wisdom on to future players.
“I want to be an example. You can take everything that you have learned
through your experiences and give back to the next generation.
Up-and-coming athletes deserve the opportunities that might not have been
around when we were younger, and we can be the reason that they are able to
fulfill their potential.”