Born in 1946, Alex is a proud member of the Musgamagwx Dzawada’enuwx First Nations in Kincome Inlet. At age seven, he was taken away from family and community and became a seven-year product and survivor of St. Michaels Residential School in Alert Bay. Today, he maintains a strong family foundation with his wife Nella of 45 years, daughter Natasha, grandsons Gigalis and Braden and great-grandson Marcus. His strong cultural background has been reinforced through his father Henry Nelson’s Chieftainship and by the Nelsons’ past four Potlatches. Alex is also a Hamatcha Cedar Man Dancer.
Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Leisure Studies from the University of Victoria. He is an Elder and Senior Advisor to the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council, and helped create the then-Aboriginal Sport, Recreation and Physical Activity Strategy for BC (the first strategy of its kind in Canada).
Past Executive Director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, Alex is a founder of the Aboriginal Sports & Recreation Association of BC - at that time the only “recognized” Aboriginal sport organization in Canada. He is also a founder of the National Aboriginal Sports Circle and was the first Chair and three-time President of the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Council. He has served as Aboriginal Team BC Chef de Mission for the 1993 and 1995 North American Indigenous Games, Board Member of the Native Participation Committee for the 1994 Commonwealth Games and member of the Minister's Sport & Recreation Advisory Council of BC.
One of his greatest and proudest achievements was helping organize the 1997 NAIG in Victoria which drew over 5,000 athletes, 3,000 cultural performers and 2,500 volunteers on a budget of only $2.5 million!
Alex is also a Level 1 Soccer Coach with 40+ years’ experience coaching youth and adult Aboriginal soccer teams. He helped expand the Victoria T-Bird Soccer Club to include women and five youth age groups. As an athlete, he has received many All-Star awards including gold medals in Soccer at the 2009 and 2016 BC Senior Games and he currently plays on a "65 & Over" team in the Vancouver Island Soccer League.
Alex knows that connection, ceremony and a sense of belonging are important to children so he has dedicated his life to helping youth as a founder of the Kwaguilth Urban Suicide Prevention & Intervention Group, where he has conducted community and self-help suicide prevention workshops for 18 years. He also lectures on Aboriginal issues to universities, high schools, communities and at conferences.
Other awards Alex has received include the Queen's 125th Commemorative Medal for Community Services, the 1998 C-FAX Runner-up Sports Person Community Award, the 1998 Victoria Sports Leader of the Year Award and City of Victoria 2002 Honourary Citizen. He also was a 2010 Olympic Torch Relay carrier.
Sport has always been a vehicle for freedom and healing for Alex: "My responsibility is to give to the next generation what sport has given to me.”
SPONSORED BY ISPARC
Simon is one of Canada’s most accomplished and decorated athletes. While still in high school he discovered triathlon, which was beginning to gain popularity, and began competing up to junior national level. Following four years in Australia, finishing his schooling and continuing to train and compete, he returned to Canada and, encouraged by Victoria Ironman Peter Reid, moved to Victoria in November 1997. In 1999, Simon won bronze at the Winnipeg Pan-Am Games. During the next two decades he earned four consecutive trips to the Olympics. He will forever be known for his victory at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, winning the inaugural triathlon gold medal. He followed up that Olympic medal with silver in 2008 during the Beijing games. During his professional triathlon career, Simon won 20 national titles, including 10 consecutive National Championships, 2002 Commonwealth Games gold, and was a 14-time World Cup winner.
Simon has had many honors and much recognition over the course of his career, including carrying the Canadian flag during the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies in London, and being inducted into the Canadian Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2015, Simon was a Toronto Pan-Am Games Ambassador and ceremonial flag bearer in the opening ceremonies. Also in 2015, he was inducted into the International Triathlon Union Hall of Fame.
Simon is well known for his leadership, advocacy and mentorship. His impact on Canadians was summarized by sports journalist Scott Russell: “Simon Whitfield has throughout his career been a standard bearer for his sport, his family and most importantly, his country. As the first Olympic triathlon champion, he will forever be an iconic figure to countless Canadians. His exploits on the international stage have inspired a generation of young people to live the Olympic life and to do so with dignity, grace and a sense of fair play. Simon Whitfield is the consummate competitor but beyond that, he is an advocate for all that is good about sport……..His legacy is without question, immense.”
Now retired from professional sport, Simon co-founded an investment and consulting business, Relentless Pursuit Partners, working with entrepreneurs who promote optimum health and an active lifestyle. He takes his roles as triathlon’s ambassador to Canada and as Canada’s ambassador to the world very seriously. He supports numerous charities, is a founding champion for the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, and loves few things as much as mentoring youth to find their passion. In February 2016, Simon was granted an honorary doctorate from the University of Guelph. The College of Business and Economics recognized Simon for his athletic achievement, broad reaching community contributions, and mentorship for two decades.
And the one thing he loves more than anything else is his family, and his most important role of all—no matter his accomplishments—is that to his girls he’s simply, Dad.
SPONSORED BY TRIATHLON CANADA