Planning underway for Indigenous summer games in the N.W.T. this summer

·2 min read
Students compete in the 2019 Traditional Games Championship hosted by the Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT. (ANGELA GZOWSKI/Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT - image credit)
Students compete in the 2019 Traditional Games Championship hosted by the Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT. (ANGELA GZOWSKI/Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT - image credit)

After a steady stream of COVID-19 related cancellations, Aboriginal Sport Circle NWT is gearing up for its first Indigenous Summer Games, in person, this summer in Yellowknife.

The event will feature traditional games and celebrate Indigenous peoples and culture with a focus on athletes over 13, said Carson Roche, events manager for Aboriginal Sport Circle NWT.

The idea is to expand opportunities for people who are too old to compete in the Traditional Games Championship, which is only open to children ages 10 to 12.

"We figure, after they turn 12, there's not much to look forward to other than Arctic Winter Games," he said.

The Traditional Games Championship was scheduled for February 24-27 this year but was postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19. Pandemic restrictions are anticipated to loosen by the summer.

Danielle d'Entremont/CBC
Danielle d'Entremont/CBC

The Indigenous Summer Games will have a junior category for ages 13 to 17 and an open category for 18 and up.

Some of the games scheduled include the one-foot high kick, two-foot high kick, Alaskan high kick, and airplane.

There will be 10 Northern games and 10 Dene Games, including stick pull, archery, axe throwing and tea boiling, said Roche.

Competitors raring to go

In the coming weeks, Roche said people can expect information about dates and times, as well as opportunities for competitors to sign up.

Knuckle hop world record holder Chris Stipdonk is gearing up to compete.

"I couldn't be happier that things are opening up and that we'll be able to compete. I'm really looking forward to competing in Arctic sports again," said Stipdonk.

Stipdonk is now training in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., in hopes of breaking the world record for the airplane event, a title held by Makabe Nartok of Kugaaruk, Nunavut, who set the 48.94 meter record in 1986.

"These games will be a good opportunity to get people more prepared for the Arctic Winter Games," if they happen in 2023, said Stipdonk.

Roche said athletes from Alaska and Nunavut have already reached out, asking to come to Yellowknife.

"I'm hoping to get a wide representation of all the communities and cultures around N.W.T. and outside the N.W.T. I want to bring cultures together and have a really fun event. It's been a while since I've seen a big gathering," said Roche.

A. Hadler/AWG2016
A. Hadler/AWG2016

Roche reflects on a time when 20 communities and schools would gather, with almost 200 athletes participating in Northern and Dene games.

"It's go, go, go — the prepping is all worth it once you're there just to see everyone get together, compete, have fun," said Roche.

Roche said more details will be released in the coming weeks.

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