A group of 12 local First Nations youth will compete in the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) with other Aboriginal athletes from across Canada and the United States.
Canim Lake Band recreation co-ordinator Tish Diamond says the canoe/kayak paddlers and track-and-field athletes will travel to Regina for the week-long games July 20-27.
She adds it is “really exciting” because the paddlers have not had a lot of opportunity to gain experience compared to their competition, but the band provides them with a lot of other ways to stay fit.
“The athletes for canoe/kayak took part in the 2013 BC Aboriginal Provincial Canoe & Kayak Championships at Seabird Island [Agassiz] last September, and they came home with gold, silver and bronze medals. This event was a Team BC Development Squad selection event.”
These energetic and skilled local paddlers then qualified to compete in Regina by their stellar performance at a three-day Enderby Marathon Canoe Clinic/NAIG Team Selection Assessment in Enderby two months ago.
“All four boys from Canim Lake did really well in their events and have made it successfully onto Team BC.
“Dennis Wick from 108 Mile Ranch has been working with the athletes on proper paddling technique. He also attended the camp and gave support for the boys during this event.”
Diamond says the band also had a lot of great help for the eight nimble and accomplished track-and-field athletes, who qualified.
“Kelly Ricketts from Zeus Fight Science Boxing and Fitness has given our two throwers, Quincy Archie and Lillian Emile, lots of coaching with javelin, discus and shot put.”
Canadian Olympian bronze medalist Lynn Kanuka is SportMedBC’s RunWalk coach, and conducted a training session with the athletes at Canim Lake, she adds.
“Lori Meville, the track coach from the Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School, has also offered support, and Clare Fast, a kinesiologist, and Anne Kolodziej, a personal trainer, have also been key in getting these athletes ready for NAIG.”
Diamond notes fundraising activities are ongoing to help these youth, aged 12-18, to go to Regina to compete.
“We made $390 at a rodeo in Williams Lake, selling bannock, Indian [fried bread] tacos and chili. Thanks to everyone who helped.”
She adds they raised $300 with bannock sales at the South Cariboo Rodeo, and two local businesses and an individual have also pledged to donate funds.
Marnie Erickson went around the community and collected more than $1,000, and
Pam Theodore secured a $1,000 donation from Ainsworth Lumber, Diamond notes.
Three volunteers are also being lined up, who Diamond hopes will help at its Aboriginal Day event concession selling Indian tacos.
The date for that annual celebration is yet to be determined and should be announced shortly, but typically is fairly close to aligning with the June 21 National Aboriginal Day.
The athletes going to NAIG in Regina are: (canoe/kayak) Stephen Theodore-Jensen, Julian Bob, Phoenix Paul and Terrance Hubrick Archie; (track and field) Jolee Campbell, Dixie-Lane Boyce, Montana Erickson, Susan Emile, Lillian Emile, Cameron Amut, Morris Bob and Quincy Archie.
Diamond says Canim Lake Band administrator Alana Dixon, staff and chief and council have made health and fitness a priority for all community members.
“They have been very dedicated in developing a community-based sports, recreation and fitness plan for all age groups, plus promoting awareness of sports and recreation opportunities in competition at the community, provincial, national and world level, including career opportunities in this field.
“Without this dedication from the band, and the parents who make sure their children make it to these events, it would not be possible for these young athletes to achieve their goals.”