Kanesatake athletes heading to Canada Summer Games

·3 min read

Kanesatake will be well represented at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games next month as Ava Gabriel will be playing for Team Quebec in the women’s box lacrosse program.

“I hope to bring back gold at the games,” said Gabriel, who is 16, and also plays for the North Shore Kodiaks U17.

Gabriel’s fellow teammate Tara Bonspille was selected as a backup for the games, so she will also be joining the team in Niagara.

It will be the first time in the Canada Summer Games history that women’s box lacrosse will be part of the competition.

“She has been playing lacrosse since she was a little girl. Her dad started playing with her outside, and then when she was five or six, she started playing in Kanesatake with the other kids. She has a passion for lacrosse,” said proud mom Andrea Kanerahtakwas Nelson.

“She was very happy when she found out. Sometimes she doubts herself, so she wasn’t sure if she would make it, but she did.”

Coach Norman Cédilotte, the director for female lacrosse in the Quebec Federation, explained that about 35 female athletes from across the province were selected to be part of Team Quebec.

“I am extremely happy with the female athletes. They are just tremendous players. They are dedicated and focused, and they want to do more than just play lacrosse. They want to take care of nutrition and be ready for the games, so mental and physical preparation,” he said.

Cédilotte said that in preparation for the games, the team would be practicing and playing games three times a week.

“We are proud of her as parents. She was selected from her small Kanesatake town, and she is going to the Canada Games to make history,” said Nelson.

“This year was challenging for her because she was in grade 10 with many school commitments. She was exhausted. She had many downs, but she fought through it with school and going to lacrosse practice three times a week.”

Gabriel plays not only box lacrosse but also field lacrosse and will be competing for Team Quebec at a national championship in Edmonton right after the games.

“In Quebec, the girls’ program has only existed for about two years. We have built a highly competitive team. We are going there to win. We are going to have to beat some powerhouses like Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta,” said Cédilotte.

Last weekend, Team Quebec won silver at the Nelson Cup, a provincial tournament in New Brunswick.

“All of our games were either won or lost against the gold team - Team Nova Scotia - by one point. All of our games went into overtime. We did seven periods of overtime over three games against Nova Scotia. That is how tight it was,” he said.

Cédilotte said that he wants to see more Indigenous players from Kanesatake, Kahnawake and Akwesasne participate in Team Quebec events because they are extremally valuable and gifted athletes.

“For the field championship that is coming up in Edmonton, we have enough players, but I haven’t completed the team because I am really trying to get more Indigenous players from the Indigenous communities,” said the coach.

For her part, Gabriel only has one message to share: “I would tell the youth that it takes hard work and dedication to follow a dream. Take every opportunity that is given to you.”

For information about joining Team Quebec, please contact Cédilotte at 514-808-4433.

marisela.amador88@gmail.com

Marisela Amador, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door

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