Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 20, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Nunavut athletes dig deep at Indigenous games

Games recognize 88th call to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report

BETH BROWN
Team Nunavut’s male 19-and-under volleyball team with Pangnirtung artist Riit Mike, centre right, and Kathleen Merritt, at the opening ceremonies of the 2017 North American Indigenous Games in Toronto, July 16. The Nunavut contingent is made up of 44 youth aged 13 to 19 on four sports teams. (PHOTO COURTESY RIIT MIKE)
Team Nunavut’s male 19-and-under volleyball team with Pangnirtung artist Riit Mike, centre right, and Kathleen Merritt, at the opening ceremonies of the 2017 North American Indigenous Games in Toronto, July 16. The Nunavut contingent is made up of 44 youth aged 13 to 19 on four sports teams. (PHOTO COURTESY RIIT MIKE)

Nunavut’s rising athletes are shooting hoops and diving for volleys in Toronto this week, during the 2017 North American Indigenous Games. 

The territory’s contingent at what is being called the largest cultural and sporting event for Indigenous youth on the continent consists of 44 basketball, volleyball and badminton players age 13 to 19. 

Their four teams for the three sports include a male 19-and-under basketball team, a 16-and-under mixed badminton team and two volleyball teams for the male 19-and-under and female 16-and-under categories.

Nunavut athletes have been competing this week among 5,000 young Indigenous youth from the 12 other provinces and territories as well as 13 regions of the United States.

There are 2,000 volunteers at the games and 14 sports are represented including baseball, canoeing and kayaking, lacrosse, swimming, archery and rifle shooting.

The youth were selected to be on Team Nunavut from throughout the territory based on their performance at regional tournaments.

While the games are an opportunity for athletic development, the experience also exposes youth to a breadth of Indigenous cultures.

“It’s [about] meeting new people, experiencing other cultures and doing your personal best,” said Jeff Seepeenak of Baker Lake, who is mission leader for Team Nunavut.

Pond Inlet volleyball player Peter Inootik and basketball player Gavin Kunuk represented Nunavut at the NAIG 2017 opening ceremonies, July 16, by carrying the Nunavut flag and their team placard.

This year marks the tenth annual North American Indigenous Games, which are held every three years and usually alternate between Canada and the U.S.

While the last games were held in Regina in 2014, the games are in Toronto this year after no U.S. region was able to host the event.

The Toronto games are focused on supporting heritage, unity and youth, through the theme of past, present and future.

The theme recognizes today’s social, cultural and political climate regarding Indigenous issues, and celebrates the accomplishments of Indigenous youth, said NAIG 2017 CEO Marcia Trudeau-Bomberry.

The games also include the slogan: “we are team 88,” which reflects the 88th call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report.

The call asks for “all levels of government to recognize these games as an important platform for long-term athlete development for Indigenous youth,” said Trudeau-Bomberry, adding that while there are teams competing from across North America, the athletes as a whole all make up team 88. 

This year’s NAIG logo uses an eagle, feather, sash and the colours of the northern lights to acknowledge Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. 

Pangnirtung artist Riit Mike performed at the opening ceremonies for the games, and Inuit drum dancers and throat singers have participated in cultural performances taking place throughout the week.

“We recognize that within the province of Ontario, there is a large number of Inuit people that live in urban centres such as Ottawa and Toronto,” said Trudeau-Bomberry.

Team Nunavut had been preparing for the games through training camps held in Ontario. 

Canada’s North has full representation at the games this year with teams competing from Yukon and Northwest territories. Alaska was unable to send a team.

In total, 61 Nunavummiut travelled to the games as part of the team, when counting mission staff, coaches and managers.

The games wrap up on July 23.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share

 THIS WEEK’S ADS

 ADVERTISING