An active lifestyle

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Oct 08/99) - Finding the right mix.

That's one of Colleen Zinter's early objectives as the recreation manager in Fort Liard. Having moved into the job in mid-September, she has started off by offering a plethora of recreational activities to find out where the greatest demand lies.

The after-school and weekend schedule has been a mix of dodge ball, floor hockey, volleyball, basketball, open gym and children's dance and music. She has also introduced a few new games such as Ultimate Frisbee, which means explaining the rules and helping the youth get the hang of it.

"They'll be learning a lot, as I will," she said.

There have been inquiries about others activities too, such as gymnastics.

"The biggest thing is to establish a program that will bring in the numbers," she said. "The focus is the youth, keeping them off the streets and out of trouble -- keeping them busy."

Student Vincent Timbre said he's glad to have recreation programs back in Fort Liard. During the past few months without a rec manager, he said he spent much of his spare time staying at home watching the Simpsons on TV.

Zinter most recently worked in Cochrane, Alta., which is about 20 minutes outside of Calgary and has a population of approximately 7,500. She brings a wealth of education to the job, having completed three years at the University of Calgary, obtaining her recreation management diploma from Mount Royal College and earning her bachelor of arts in physical education at the University of Lethbridge.

Although Fort Liard is new territory for her, she is quite familiar with the North. She spent a few summers at the summer aquatics facility in Norman Wells. This past summer she was in Holman working with the waterfront program and other recreational activities. She has also spent time in Yellowknife, Deline, Fort Good Hope and Inuvik. So finding a job in Fort Liard was right up her alley.

"I want to reside in the North somewhere. I love the North," she said, adding that there was at least one surprise in Liard. "I didn't realize there were this many trees here ... but it is very beautiful country ... I like it up here so far."

Although most Northern communities don't have large populations, she said each one she has worked in has been "amazing in its own right" in regards to the amount of equipment they possess.

"And if I ever needed any, they've been more than accommodating," she said, adding that she's pleased to see the hamlet and Echo Dene school have an agreement to share facilities and equipment. There are two other things she is going to work towards getting in the community, she said -- a youth centre and a pool.

As a recreation leader, she is required to work mornings, evenings and most weekends, which are prime time sports and rec hours. Once the arena is open and hockey season is under way, she will make Mondays her day off, she noted. She also has plans to get high school students more involved in leadership roles, which will enable them to realize they too can become recreation leaders if they desire.

If she gets the participation she saw during the Terry Fox Run -- one of her first tasks to organize after arriving in the community -- it will be encouraging.

"I was impressed," she said of the 42 people who showed up. "It was good, it was a good day."