Thunder Bay athletes head to North American Indigenous Games
Training, financial sacrifices 'so worth it' for young athletes, mom from Kitchenuhmaykoosib says
A pair of cousins will be among the 500 Ontario athletes heading to the North American Indigenous Games in Saskatchewan next week.
Hailey McKay, from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, is a member of Ontario's soccer team, while cousin Sabrina Angeconeb from Bearskin Lake First Nation plays volleyball for Team Ontario.
"I'm just really happy and I'm really grateful I get to have this opportunity" Hailey said.
She said she was inspired to try-out after her parents took her to the Games in 2006.
When her mom, Nicole McKay saw the try-outs in Thunder Bay advertised on Facebook "I said, if you're interested we're more than willing to take you...and support you and dad and I will always be there.
"Then we left it up to her to decide."
Angeconeb didn't get to see the games in 2006, but she has family members who participated.
"Knowing my sister and uncle both made it, and seeing their jerseys, I just wanted my own jersey," she said.
Nicole McKay said training was a big commitment for the whole family and taking time off work to travel with the girls to the Saskatchewan is a financial sacrifice.
But "it's so worth it," she said. "I think it's important to encourage our young people in whatever goals they have. The way I look at it, these games are done with a lot of care and love so these young people can experience it."
The North American Indigenous Games begin July 20.