Wikwemikong and Whitefish athletes vying for spot at Indigenous Games

OTTAWA—Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve teamed up with Whitefish River First Nation to provide an opportunity for youth to partake in the track and field tryouts in an effort to represent Team Ontario in the upcoming North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).

These tryouts took place in Gloucester, Ontario on March 1. NAIG will be taking place from July 20 to 27 in Regina in a multi-sport event involving indigenous North American athletes (ages 13-19) that has been held every three years in various cities across North America since 1990. The NAIG event includes an intense week of friendly sport competition and serves as a showcase for a range of cultural events and activities that are held throughout the games. The games bring together 21 regions to participate in 16 sporting events in various age divisions, each hoping to win the gold, silver or bronze medal for their region.

The youth’s adventure started on Friday, February 28 when they departed Wikwemikong with Derek Assiniwe of Shegtown Bus Lines in the driver’s seat and a brief stop to pick up the Whitefish River First Nation youth. Then it was off to Ottawa for a good night’s sleep in preparation for the day’s events. Their initial intimation by the caliber of expertise was quickly diminished, and they all gave it their best in an effort to gain a spot to represent Team Ontario. They demonstrated excellent sportsmanship, team effort and provided each other with encouragement, as did the visiting Ottawa relatives who came out to cheer them on. The youth participated in a variety of events such as the 100 metre, 200 metre and 400 metre sprints, the 1500 metre, high jump, long jump, triple jump and shot put.

Our youth fared quite well considering they were competing with adults in this open track meet. Peyton Manitowabi shared, “It was a really good experience because not a lot of kids get to go to these types of things and I was proud of myself for what I did.”

Shyaya Shawanda said, “My highlights included running on the big open track, getting to learn new techniques for sports and I got to meet new people.”

Delani Rae Trudeau shared, “I had a really great experience on the trip to Ottawa to tryout for NAIG and I think more kids should go a tryout—meegwetch.”

The results from this track meet will be compared to the rest of the other tryouts that took place over Ontario and whether or not one made the team will not be known until April. This experience not only gave these athletes an opportunity to demonstrate their talents, but was also a chance to build friendships with other First Nation youth.

Ontario is nearing the end of its search for potential athletes. There are still a few more events that will be hosting tryouts such as soccer in mid-March in Sudbury, basketball and badminton at the end of March in Rama First Nation, and canoeing later in the spring in southern Ontario. For more information search Facebook for Aboriginal Team Ontario, Wikwemikong Active Youth or visit q.

The athletes send a big meegwetch to Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Whitefish River First Nation and Andy’s for their financial contribution to make this endeavour possible.