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Contextually appropriate aquatic programming in Canada's North: The Shallow Water Pool Lifeguard Certification
Despite its forty-four year long existence, the Northwest Territories (NWT) Aquatic Program has struggled to train and retain northern lifeguards. As a result, the NWT Recreation and Parks Association and the Lifesaving Society of Canada designed the Shallow Water Pool Lifeguard certification to try to more successfully certify lifeguards in the North, a region that has mostly shallow water swimming pools. A week-long training course was piloted in 2007 to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach to lifeguard training. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with course candidates and instructors revealed that the course's foci on northern cultural practices and shallow swimming pools were appropriate and made the content both meaningful and effective in preparing candidates for work at their community pools. The course candidates, all of whom were Aboriginal youth, noted the importance of the continued incorporation and expansion of culturally responsive water safety education strategies as well as a need for a more effective, wider-reaching territorial aquatic program. Specifically, course content should incorporate Aboriginal beliefs and traditions as well as information pertaining to local waterways.