SIX NATIONS — The lacrosse portion of the North American Indigenous Games came to Six Nations last week with back-to-back games at three arenas in three categories.
It was a proud week for Six Nations athletes and those of several Indigenous Communities from throughout Turtle Island, who competed in friendly yet highly competitive sport in an Olympic style atmosphere.
Fourteen sports were represented including archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, box lacrosse, canoe/kayak, golf, rifle shooting, soccer, softball, swimming volleyball and wrestling.
But it was the Creators game being played at Six Nations, the centre of box lacrosse.
“I think it is very important for the young people,” said Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill, at the ILA. “I spoke at the opening about all the things they can learn from sports. What NAIG does is gives them the opportunity to travel, see new faces and make new friends. As far as I am concerned, they are all winners just by being here as a participant. That’s what we need for our young people. They bring hope and inspiration to all of our youth.”
The closing ceremonies for the Naig Games was held at Chiefswood Park complete with music and dance, but the event also doubled as the opening ceremonies for the Six Nations Champion of Champions Powwow which began Saturday morning. Many athletes and parents from afar stayed over to take in the Powwow while they were at Six Nations of the Grand River.
“I am so glad we had the opportunity to host the lacrosse events,” Chief Hill said. “It has exceeded our expectations. So many people have come up and thanking us for welcoming them here.”
I really want to thank the community for stepping up and being gracious hosts to them, and all the volunteers and the staff have done a great job. Our committee did an excellent job with all the nightly cultural events.
The ILA, Gaylord Powless Arena and the Harry Howell Arena hosted the lacrosse games with nothing but compliments for the facilities and the friendliness of the host community.
The U-16 Men’s division saw British Columbia win Bronze by defeating Eastern Door and the North 9-4.
Team Ontario won the Gold medal defeating New York 12-3, while BC took home the Silver.
British Columbia won the Bronze with a 10-3 win over Saskatchewan, Friday at the ILA. Eastern Door edged Team Ontario 4-3 in one of the most exciting games of the tournament.
Thursday, in the U-19 Men’s semi-finals, Ontario beat BC, 10-5 while New York and Eastern Door went to overtime to determine a winner. It was New York moving on to the medal round the next day.
BC, won Bronze by eliminating Eastern Door 9-4 and Team Ontario got the Gold with a 12-3 win over Silver medalists, New York.
Lacrosse organizer, Kevin Sandy was a blur as he kept the games running on time and helping teams with anything they might need.
“We are so proud to have hosted this,” said Sandy. “It’s part of our culture, it’s part of our community and who we are as Haudenosaunee people and a part of who we are as Indigenous people. It’s more than just the games, it’s a celebration. Everyone had a wonderful time.”
Sandy considers every athlete a potential Indigenous leader of their communities as well.
Role models like Cody Jamieson’s, Kerri Leigh Thomas, and other recognized Six Nations’ Indigenous stars of sport served to encourage and support the athletes as ambassadors. Athletes from small remote communities also have a chance to shine for their own communities as well, and that too is a big part of what makes the NAIG games so important.