Manitoulin Indigenous Games

Little Current Public School Grade 4/5 students practice their lacrosse skills with Steven Pruchnicki, Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute (KTEI) Indigenous Games instructor, for the upcoming Manitoulin Indigenous Games being hosted by KTEI in M’Chigeeng later this month. photo by Robin Burridge

Island schools (and beyond) invited to participate

M’CHIGEENG—Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute (KTEI) will be hosting the inaugural Manitoulin Indigenous Games on Wednesday, May 31 at the M’Chigeeng powwow grounds, bringing together area students to compete in several traditional games.

“The games were the brainchild of KTEI Executive Director Stephanie Roy,” KTEI Indigenous Games instructor Steven Pruchnicki told The Expositor. “The games weren’t being taught in the area schools, but they are very much a part of indigenous culture. Stephanie wanted to revitalize the indigenous games and reintroduce them in the schools on Manitoulin and beyond.”

Fellow KTEI Indigenous Games instructor Diana Stevens added that sports are an integral part of aboriginal culture and that the games are providing students the opportunity to connect with their heritage.    

Ms. Stevens, Mr. Pruchnicki and fellow Indigenous Games team member Carrianne Agawa, education coordinator, have been working with area schools since last fall to revitalize the games in the schools.

“We started working with schools around M’Chigeeng in November (2016) and then circled out to other schools in the area,” shared Mr. Pruchnicki. “We ran through the seven games that will be part of the Indigenous Games including lacrosse, Cree double ball, pole push (a Dene game), stick pull, cross country, archery and two-foot high kick (an arctic winter game).”

He noted that the games selected represent many of the communities from across Turtle Island.

“We’re not only teaching students the games, but also the history behind the games,” continued Mr. Pruchnicki. “We talk about how and why they are sacred and what nation created them—this really helps the students understand the importance of the Indigenous Games.”

The KTEI team has worked closely with a champion at each school who has been working on the games with the students between the team’s visits.

“The students have gained a good handle of the games over the last six months and developed the skills to play them,” said Mr. Pruchnicki. “Learning the games have effected them in a positive way. The students have also been taking the experience and knowledge home with them and we have had parents stop us in the communities to shake our hands and talk about the program. We’re not just teaching a game, we are establishing a connection with the students and communities. This is what KTEI does—forge positive, healthy relationships in the communities we serve and the response we have gotten is a testament to that.”

“There has been increased excitement when we go into the schools,” said Ms. Stevens of the students’ attitudes leading up to the games. “They will have the opportunity at the games to participate in at least three of the events, up to all seven if they wish.”

The KTEI Indigenous Games will be held on Wednesday, May 31 at the M’Chigeeng powwow grounds. Opening ceremonies will start at 9 am, followed by the games commencing at 9:30 am. Members of the public are invited to attend and KTEI expects approximately 100 students to participate from across Manitoulin, Birch Island, Espanola and Webbwood.