North

Indomitable Firth sisters grace new Canadian stamp

The N.W.T.'s Sharon and Shirley Firth are on a new Canadian postage stamp celebrating their role in breaking barriers for women in sport.

Northwest Territories cross-country skiing legends part of new special 5-stamp series

Sharon and Shirley Firth grace a new Canadian postage stamp celebrating their role in breaking barriers for women in sport. (Canada Post)

They competed in four winter Olympics, captured 48 national titles, and won 79 medals at national championships.

Now N.W.T. cross-country skiing legends Sharon Anne Firth and her late sister Shirley Firth Larsson will grace a stamp from Canada Post.

Sharon says she always looks at the fine details of stamps before she mails a letter.

"With me and Shirley's face on the stamp, people will know who we are. And it will be a good motivation for people across the country," she said.

"[But] it's not about us, it's about who we represent — all the youth and elders and people everywhere. It's not just gonna stay in Canada it's going to go globally."

The Firth stamp is one of six Canada Post has recently issued commemorating females who have broken barriers in sport. The other four athletes joining the Firth sisters are Clara Hughes, Nancy Greene, Danielle Goyette, and Sonja Gaudet.

The stamps were released Wednesday at a celebration at Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary's Olympic Park.

Bringing positive light

Born twin sisters in 1953, Shirley and Sharon, originally from Aklavik, N.W.T., were part of the first women's cross-country ski team to represent Canada at the Olympics. As members of the Gwich'in Nation, they were also among Canada's first Indigenous athletes at the games.

Gwich'in Tribal Council President Bobbi Jo Greenland-Morgan, second from right, said the Firth sisters were an inspiration to her as a youth. Sharon, second from left, and Shirley Firth grace a new Canadian postage stamp. (Submitted by Bobbi Jo Greenland-Morgan)

They both made their national debuts in 1968 as 15-year-olds, and immediately began their winning ways at races in Canada, Alaska and Sweden — and they never really stopped winning.

After 17 years on the national team the Firths had amassed 79 medals at national championships and competed at four consecutive Winter Olympic Games — the only Canadian women skiers to have done that.

Shirley died of cancer in 2013.

"Sharon and her late twin sister Shirley have accomplished so much in their lifetime," said Bobbi Jo Greenland-Morgan, Gwich'in Tribal Council President.

Greenland-Morgan said both sisters were an inspiration to her when she was a youth.

"Sharon continues to do amazing things and is an inspiration and positive role model. They helped bring positive light to our people and our region."

With files from Priscilla Hwang

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