2017 Dionne Award
Dr. Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth-Larsson
The MADA DIONNE award is awarded to adult multiple-birth individual(s) who through his/her/their actions have created a deeper awareness of the challenges faced by Canada’s multiple-birth children and their families and/or have made a significant impact on the multiple-birth community through their own personal efforts.
The 2017 Dionne Making a Difference Award goes to Dr. Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth-Larsson.
Dr Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth-Larsson (deceased) were born December 31, 1953, as members of the Gwich’in First Nations. They were among the first Aboriginal athletes to represent Canada on the World stage. The Firth twins dominated Canadian cross-country skiing from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, capturing 48 Canadian championships, and 79 national medals overall. The sisters also competed in a number of World Championships, as well as in four Olympic Games, 72- 84. Shirley and Sharon Firth are the only female Canadian skiers to have competed in four consecutive Winter Olympic Games.
List of their Honours and Awards are many and include:
Commissioner’s Award, Government of the Northwest Territories (1981)
Member, Order of Canada (1987)
Canadian Ski Hall of Fame, Canadian Ski Museum (1990)
Golden Jubilee Medal (2002)
National Aboriginal Achievement Award (2005/2006)
NWT Sport Hall of Fame (2012)
Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame (2015)
The Firth sisters had to overcome many challenges in their journey. What makes their story unique, and why they should be recognized, is it was their close twin relationship with each other that strengthened them and helped them to succeed.
In learning of their being inducted into the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (as the first Aboriginals from NWT), Sharon had the following to say:
"Because of my sister's passing, I didn't want to do it without her. And I thought, well, we've always done everything together in relation to sports, and we are both being inducted, which is pretty amazing. So, I accepted graciously." These sisters were always recognized as twins, they not only were stellar representations of Canadian women athletes, and of First Nation members, but also of the multiple births community.
Sharon had the following to say upon learning of their award from MBC; “On behalf of my late twin sister Shirley Firth-Larsson and I will be honoured to accept this amazing award”