Exercise Science | Health and Physical Education | Kinesiology | Leisure Studies | Other Rehabilitation and Therapy | Outdoor Education | Public Health | Sports Sciences | Sports Studies | Tourism and Travel


For over 60 years, the Northwest Territories Aquatics Program (NWTAP) has employed university students from southern Canada with little to no exposure to northern Canada to run seasonal swimming pools and waterfronts in isolated northern communities. In this article, we examine the impact that working for this program had on nine former employees’ lives and whether or not working for the NWTAP could be categorized as a significant life experience. We used thematic analysis of the data from retrospective semi-structured interviews and open-ended questionnaires and identified four themes: (1) employment by the NWTAP enhanced the employees’ self-confidence, independence, and self-efficacy; (2) employees gained knowledge about Indigenous cultures in the Northwest Territories; (3) employees developed enhanced sensitivity to social issues in northern communities; and (4) the experience of working for the NWTAP strongly influenced participants’ career paths. Our analysis indicated that working for the NWTAP was a significant life experience.