A fly-in First Nations community in northern Manitoba has come together to make sure some of its finest athletes will be at the North American Indigenous Games, which kick off in Toronto this coming week.
Thanks to community fundraisers and chief and council support, five youth from St. Theresa Point, located 463 kilometres north of Winnipeg, will compete in the Games in athletics, basketball and volleyball.
"The community is so proud of these athletes," said Mike Taylor, a coach and high school teacher from St. Theresa Point who worked with the athletes and helped with the fundraising. "Everybody's pitching in."
The five athletes from St. Theresa Point, and the events they'll compete in, are:
- Starlene Keno, under-16 athletics.
- Dustin Manakeesick, under-16 athletics.
- Mario Flett, under-14 male basketball.
- Keyshawn Harper, under-14 male basketball.
- Tyler Wood, under-19 volleyball.
"They're super excited and can't wait to get going, to hit the floor or run," Taylor said.
"And they can't wait to meet the other people from the other teams and make new friends."
Bake sales, bingos
While individual training took place in St. Theresa Point, Taylor said that for over a year the athletes had to make monthly trips to Winnipeg for team practices, which cost thousands of dollars for the five.
The First Nation's chief and council, education authority and community members all chipped in to cover the cost of airfare, meals and accommodation for training and the final trip to the Games themselves.
Taylor said community members have held everything from bake sales and bingos to raffles to raise the funds.
"It's been super because the whole community has come together for this," he said.
The North American Indigenous Games run from July 16-23 in Toronto.