Young athletes from across the NWT gathered in Yellowknife over the weekend for the 2024 Traditional Games Championships.
In all, more than 200 youth, chaperones and parents attended the two-day games at Sir John Franklin High School playing sports such as the: One-Foot High Kick; the Two-Foot High Kick; Arm Pull; Wrist Hang; Dene Stick Pull; and the Snow Snake.
Organized by Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT, the championship featured competitors between the ages of 10 and 12 taking part in what is a mix of Northern and Dene Games.
As you might imagine, with the Games in the 12th year, it keeps growing.
Carson Roche is the head organizer. He explains how the Games have grown.
“This is the second year we’ve done it at Sir John, (for the) previous 10 years, we were always at William MacDonald school,” says Roche, who is events manager for the Aboriginal Sports Circle.
“It’s a smaller gym and we didn’t have enough space for bleachers and public to come and watch and downtown’s closer.
“And now we get a lot of people to come watch.”
That included athletes such as Yellowknife’s Karissa Young, who says she also enjoys the cultural aspect of the event.
“It’s so neat to see all the other kids and the different things that they do,” she said.
And while Aklavik’s Kavehya Blake was excited about visiting Yellowknife, the student was also happy about her performance in the various sports.
“It was really good and really fun … the one-foot high kick, I’m fourth place – I got up to four-foot 10.”
One of the objectives of the Games is to develop and maintain traditional culture as well as social components of the games.
Athletes can also get their ticket punched to the 2024 Arctic Winter Games, to be held March 10 to 16 in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley in south-central Alaska.
Beaufort Delta’s Gerry Kasoun has been a fixture of amateur sports for many years. He acted as emcee for much of the event and says this was a good Games!
“We have schools from the Arctic Ocean down through NWT’s great lakes and down to the South Slave,” said the former RCMP officer from Inuvik, where he runs Tundra North Tours.
“It’s been a very good event … a chance for us to get together and share culture and have some fun.”
Established in 1999, Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT was created in 1999 in response to the need for more accessible and equitable sport and recreation opportunities for Indigenous people.
The Sports Circle promotes and supports culturally relevant programming, developing athletes and coaches based on community interests, strengths and desires.