Mi'kmaw Summer Games give Indigenous youth a chance to come together
Event at Waycobah First Nation in Cape Breton runs from Aug. 18 to 25
For Steven Googoo, a band councillor for Waycobah First Nation, the Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Summer Games aren't just exciting — they're a celebration of being Mi'kmaq.
The games, which started on Sunday, have been an annual event since 2010.
About 2,000 Mi'kmaw people from across the Maritimes are in Waycobah, N.S., to participate in sport, entertainment and cultural events.
This year the event is being hosted by Waycobah First Nation from Aug. 18 to 25.
Athletes can compete in about 40 different sporting events including softball, basketball, canoeing, arm wrestling and Kojua — a traditional Mi'kmaq style of dance.
People of all ages can compete and the event even has a division for elders, says Googoo, who is one of the competing athletes.
Games promote 'a positive lifestyle'
"To see that many communities in one place compete and sharing stories, it just gives you that good sense that our Mi'kmaw people have a good future, the kids have a good future," Googoo says.
The event originally started in the 1970s and ended in the late 1990s for financial reasons, he says.
According to the event's website, the games resumed in 2010 after a group of Mi'kmaw chiefs from Unama'ki decided it was important to continue the summer games.
Googoo says that five Unama'ki and one mainland band contribute to finance the event.
Each year a different community hosts the event.
"Kids are more geared towards X-Box and computers, Playstation, cellphones. So bringing the games back ... gives the kids the opportunity to come out and play sports, be active and support a positive lifestyle," Googoo says.
"It gives a chance for our youth to interact with each other and with other communities".