2003, Sam Johnston (Dene Games, Archery)

samjohnstonSam was born and raised in Teslin, Yukon and has dedicated his life to working with and coaching people of all ages. Sam is a well respected elder of the Ishkitan Clan of the Teslin Tlingit Council and is being recognized for his many years of coaching both Dene Games and Archery throughout the Yukon.

Sam has been heavily involved in numerous sports dating back to the early 1960’s when he became very competitive in the sport of Dog Mushing, and spent countless hours teaching young people how to run and care for race dogs.

During this period Sam started teaching Yukon children the traditional game of stick gambling. His love for teaching youth branched into coaching Dene Games teams in the Arctic Winter Games (AWG) for over a decade. Sam has taken great pride in all the young men he has taught and has always believed that what’s important is it not so much the chance to compete as it is the chance to become proud of your efforts. In the past two AWG, Sam has lent his expertise as an official for Dene Games and has been asked to participate as the head official for the 2004 AWG in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Sam’s other passion is the sport of Archery, where he has been both an athlete and a coach at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) since the early 1990’s. Sam has spent many hours going to schools and communities all over the Territory and has bought many a bow, and made many arrows to encourage people to take part in the sport. He is never happier than when kids come home with medals or score higher than him in a competition. He instills in his athlete’s leadership qualities that include honor, trust, respect and integrity.

Sam had a lengthy political career in the Yukon that included Chief of the Teslin Tlingit Council for over 14 years. He was elected as an MLA and holds the honor of being the first inaugural First Nation Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for the Yukon Government.

Sam was an active Tlingit dancer who passed on the values of the Tlingit dance and heritage to both young and old. He has had the opportunity to travel throughout the world performing and sharing these values.

Many athletes, coaches and officials who have had the pleasure to get to know Sam over the years respect his advice, knowledge and prayers. His wife Kelly often hears Sam say that he “will coach, teach and instruct until the day his lord calls him home.”