North American Indigenous Games a 'life changing' experience for athletes, says Ont. chef de mission
About 5,000 athletes from all over North America competed in Toronto and Hamilton
The medals have been handed out and the closing ceremonies held, putting a wrap on the 2017 North American Indigenous Games, and the chef de mission for Ontario says it was a memorable experience for the athletes.
The athletes will return to their home communities as heroes, whether they medaled or not, Laliberté said.
The man in charge of the Ontario team that collected 137 medals — 51 of them gold — has a long history in sports, being involved for over 20 years and including attending six Indigenous games.
"They knew that they were valued and loved," he continued, adding that the games were a chance for the athletes to be proud of their culture and their identity.
"The rifle team was kind of my favourite because my son was thrust into the role of being a rifle coach at the last minute," he said, chuckling. "With his military experience, he does know rifle and was able to connect with the two members of the rifle team who were from Pikangikum and Kashechewan."
Helping Manitoba field teams for soccer and softball was another moment that stood out, Laliberte added.