Thousands of young athletes from across Canada and the United States descended on Regina over the weekend to compete in the 2014 North American Indigenous Games. The opening ceremony took place yesterday in Mosaic Stadium (home of the Roughriders), and the games themselves kicked off with a series of basketball games (Team Wisconsin beat Team Ontario 65-45 in the Under 19 Men's opener).
Here's a clip from the opening ceremony, taken from the stands (the home team, Team Saskatchewan, makes an appearance to loud cheering around the one-minute mark):
In all, organizers expect about 5,000 athletes, coaches and support staff from 21 teams to take part in 14 different events, from basketball and soccer to riflery and archery. Alongside the sports this week is a full cultural program of music, comedy and dance, leading up to Saturday's closing ceremony, featuring a headline performance from A Tribe Called Red.
The games are typically held every three years, although the 2011 competition, which was to take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was cancelled for financial reasons (instead, the city hosted a scaled-down U.S.-only competition they called the U.S. Indigenous Games). The idea behind the event, which first took place in Edmonton in 1990, is to foster positive alternatives for aboriginal youth.
“It’s to celebrate life rather than the negative options that present themselves,” co-founder Wilton Littlechild explained to the Regina Leader Post. “It’s been a long journey, but it’s always exciting to see the games happen.”
The games run from July 20 to 26, and attendance at all sporting events is free for spectators.