TURTLE ISLAND – History shows that when French Jesuit Jean de Brebeuf saw Hurons playing a game the Mohawks call begadwe, he noticed the the hooked sticks they used looked similar to the crosier, a staff carried by Roman Catholic Bishops, so he called it lacrosse.
As a part of the Canada’s 150th Birthday celebrations, the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) is putting “the Creator’s Game” on centre stage with a series of special events in Montreal, June 16 to 18, 2017, at a variety of educational and cultural activities for people of all ages to enjoy.
It is said that Montreal is where the “Creators Game” was revised into what became the modern era of Lacrosse back in 1867. Eventually, Onkwehonwe (First Nations) players were banned from playing the game because they were embarrassing the British military teams, and therefor the Crown, with their ball control skills and supreme conditioning. That ban was eventually lifted but in the interim, lacrosse did not die with the Haudenosaunee, Huron, Anishinabic, and other original peoples lacrosse Turtle Island who picked up the game from the Iroquois League of Nations.
“The 150th Anniversary of Lacrosse Celebration will be a once-in-a-lifetime event – a festival of activities that will help honour and celebrate the history and cultural significance of Canada’s national summer sport, lacrosse,” says a media release from the CLA. “We strongly believe that 2017, a year that marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation as well as the birth of the modern version of lacrosse, is the perfect occasion to re-introduce our country’s first national sport to a new generation of Canadians.”
It is hoped that through this event, the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation and its partners will strive to educate the public about the important role that the sport of lacrosse has had in nation-building and its spiritual significance to the First Nations.
“Lacrosse exists as an important link between the First Nations and European Settlers,” according to the release. “It remains the rare occurrence in which an element of native culture was accepted and embraced by Canadian society.
Some of the events being presented include a re-created game featuring authentic traditional sticks and wardrobe to help illustrate the transformation of lacrosse from a Traditional Game played by the First Nations to a Victorian Sport formalized by the rules of Dr. George Beers. That will take place on the lower field at McGill University, Saturday, June 17 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.
Ironically, it was money donated from the Six Nations Trust Fund without Six Nations approval that bailed out McGill in its infancy, and never returned.
There will also be a travelling exhibition of historical artifacts and photos from the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame that will allow attendees to learn about the history of the game and the people that have impacted it over the past 150 years. This will be housed at the McCord Museum.
A series of lectures and presentations on a variety of lacrosse topics, featuring numerous authors and academics, will also be part of the celebration. This will give attendees the opportunity to learn about the game from people that have studied its history. This will be at Repath Hall at McGill.
Speakers will include J. Alan Childs, a researcher and historian on the sport of lacrosse in the Midwest. His book “Minnesota Lacrosse: A History” focuses on the roots of lacrosse in the Ojibwe and Dakota communities up to the early Midwest lacrosse. Mr. Childs lives in Savage, Minnesota with his wife and five children who play, coach, and teach lacrosse at all.
Lacrosse Historian and governor of the Lacrosse Hall of fame, W.B. Bruce MacDonald will speak on the first attempts at professional lacrosse around the turn of the last century.
Tewenhni’tatshon, also known as Louis Delisle, is a 2014 inductee to the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a player and builder. He has been an educator in his community since 1975 after graduating from McGill University with a bachelor’s degree in education. His experiences in lacrosse go back to the mid-1950s. He has had the benefit of hearing lacrosse history through the oral traditions of elders of the Six Nations Confederacy. He is still involved with lacrosse today, acting as elder advisor to the Kahnawake Survival School lacrosse team.
The Significance and Cultural Role of the Game of Lacrosse will b e the topic for Daniel Ferland who holds both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in history from the University of Sherbrooke. His post-secondary research was centred on the sport of lacrosse and its First Nations origins. This historian has had an interest in the sport for quite some time, having played it for over 40 years. This has allowed him to see first-hand the evolution of in-game techniques and equipment, spanning from the end of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century.
A number of lacrosse tournaments will be held throughout the event for women’s and girls lacrosse as well as boys and men.