It's been about 20 years since Sheila Grandbois last competed in track and field events, but an Indigenous sports tournament is giving adults like her the chance to relive their glory days.
Grandbois is competing in shot put, discus and javelin — and hopes to finish in the top three — at the first ever Masters Alberta Indigenous Games, held from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at various sites in Edmonton.
Nearly 2,000 adults aged 21 to 100 will join her, competing in a variety of sports like softball, volleyball, basketball, archery, hand games, soccer, golf and track and field.
Participants have eagerly awaited the inaugural games.
"Oh, my God, I was so excited for this; it makes me feel young again," said Grandbois, 48, who is Cree from Goodfish Lake, Alta., and Dene from Cold Lake, Alta.
Organizers said 32 teams with players aged 21 to 49 were competing in the volleyball tournament. (Craig Ryan/CBC)
Much like the Alberta Indigenous Games, held from Aug. 9 to 19 for youth aged nine to 21, the Masters tournament is open to all skill levels, according to CEO Jake Hendy.
He said he was inspired to set up games for adults after watching youth age out of the original games.
"They're now gonna be able to continue to be part of our game and their parents are gonna be able to be part of it," said Hendy.
It also gives adults who never got to compete as kids the "chance to play the sports they wanted in a safe environment with their family and their loved ones," he said.
In addition to competing, Grandbois — along with her four daughters — also took time to volunteer at the Masters volleyball tournament.
Her daughter, Yndes, organized the volleyball games and said 32 teams in four different age categories competed in the sport, including players from across Alberta and as far away as Ontario.
'Sport is ceremony'
Veronica Headley, a member of Yellow Quill First Nation in Saskatchewan, said she was excited to be able to be part of a big Indigenous sports tournament on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Sports are a way to come together as people to share culture and support each other which is part of the healing process, she said.
"I think sport is ceremony. It's about moving and being all together," said Headley.
Veronica Headley, 31, said "there's something really powerful" about playing in the Master Alberta Indigenous Games on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. (Craig Ryan/CBC)
Others who share Headley's views include Tyler Donnally from Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan.
He and his friends saw the games as a chance to reunite for the first time in a long time.
His teammate and friend, River Rayne Thomas, originally from Saulteaux First Nation in Saskatchewan, travelled up to Edmonton from his current home in Los Angeles.
The long journey to meet with his friends was completely worth it, he said.
The Masters Alberta Indigenous Games are about way more than sports, Headley said.
"There's something really powerful about being all together like this."
Tyler Donnally said he and many of his friends travelled to Edmonton to take part in the Masters Alberta Indigenous Games. (Craig Ryan/CBC)