Cultural pride front and centre at Indigenous Summer Games

A competition, but also a celebration of traditional sports, Indigenous peoples and their culture.

Archery was a popular event at the 2024 Indigenous Summer Games at École St. Patrick High School. (James O'Connor/CKLB)

Athletes from across the NWT — and further afield — gathered in Yellowknife over the weekend for the 2024 Indigenous Summer Games.

Hundreds of youth, parents and adult competitors attended the three-day games at Ecole St. Patrick High School in Yellowknife.

Female open category in the finger pull event at the Archery was a popular event at the 2024 Indigenous Summer Games at École St. Patrick High School. (James O’Connor/CKLB)

Organized by Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT, the Summer Games were established to increase participation and awareness of Northern and Dene Games.

It allows anyone to participate in Northern and Dene Games, providing an opportunity for older contestants or were unable to attend the Mat-Su 2024 Arctic Winter Games in Alaska this past March.

This included everything from the triple jump and axe throwing, to archery, fish cutting and the knuckle hop.

There is also a major social component for those visiting Yellowknife from communities across the territory, as they get to mix and mingle with other young people.

For Yellowknife athlete Brendan McAllister, he struck up a friendship with someone from 5,600 kilometres away.

Órisín Canava is from Dublin, Ireland, and was immersed in Indigenous culture during this part of her visit here. The 17-year-old even cut and gutted a fish on Saturday in the fish cutting event.

“My auntie lives here, so I’m just over for visiting, and I’m just kind of joining in the games.

As for the fish cutting: “I did pretty bad, but I wasn’t like trying to get a good time, you know? I was just doing it, just to do it.”

McAllister, 19, is a veteran of these types of games. He was entered in several different sports for these games..

Brendan McAllister coaches Órisín Canava as she guts her fish at the Indigenous Summer Games on the weekend. (James O’Connor/CKLB)

“Yeah, I was doing multiple events. I did, like, stick pull, pole push, and ring toss. For some of the Dene games, and then the Arctic sports, I did two foot high kick, triple jump, kneel jump and just etc, like most of the events.

“I did my first tournament was when I was probably in Grade Five. It was a prep kind of tournament for Arctic Winter Games.

“This is important to the culture. You know, it’s a good event. You know, people come out here, they have fun, you know, they’re showing off what they used to do back in the day. And like, old traditions and whatnot.”

All NWT residents and non-NWT residents could register for the games. Indigenous and non-Indigenous athletes were invited to participate.

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.

The Indigenous Summer Games is a competition, but is also a celebration of traditional games, Indigenous peoples and their culture.

Three video minutes of fierce and fun fish cutting: Indigenous Summer Games June 2024 – SD 480p

2024 Indigenous Summer Games at École St. Patrick High School featured several types of high-kicking competitions. (James O’Connor/CKLB)


About the Author

James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: