A member of Quebec’s Eastern Door and North girls under-16 team drives against a member of Team Saskatchewan during play Monday at the #North American Indigenous Games. (Cameron Perrier/CBC) Day one for basketball at the North American #Indigenous Games (#NAIG) also meant a first day for many athletes on the basketball court.
For Tianna Redman, competing in her first games for Team Saskatchewan in under-16 basketball was a family affair — her older brother is competing in his first NAIG in under-19 for the same discipline. Both siblings won their first games.
"We’re mainly close through basketball," Tianna said, adding her brother showed her a few tricks in preparation for the games.
Redman’s community, the Standing Buffalo #First Nation near Fort Qu’Appelle, hasn’t sent basketball players to the games before this year.
"This doesn’t really happen for us — they were really happy to know that 44 of their own were going to this," she said, adding her community is well known for lacrosse. ‘We only got together twice before this’
Team Ontario wasn’t as successful as Saskatchewan on Monday, losing to Minnesota in its first under-14 boys game. But for a team which had many first-time NAIG participants, coach Titus Channing said he saw a positive momentum he hopes carries throughout the games.
"It’s a learning experience for these kids," Channing said. "We’ve seen a lot of these kids develop into good people. I just hope the takeaway is not just about playing basketball but playing as a team, identifying who they are and their culture." A player from Eastern Door and North, left, is surrounded by defenders from Team Saskatchewan. (Cameron Perrier/CBC) A Team Saskatchewan under-16 player moves past an Eastern Door and North player during their opening game on Monday/. (Cameron Perrier/CBC) Team Ontario’s Christian Copegog, from Christian Island with the Beausoleil First Nation, said his first NAIG has been hard work, but he’s having fun getting to know his team.
"It’s fun staying with the team and getting to know them," he said. ‘We’re still here’
Gerry Benoit is another coach with the Ontario under-14 boys team. It’s his second time coaching at NAIG, after competing himself in basketball in 2002. While he said his playing days are behind him, he wants to instill in his team the confidence he felt during his time at the games.
"It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about building character and confidence," he said. While his under-14 team captured silver in 2014, he said they’re only looking ahead "quarter by quarter, minute by minute."
For Benoit, this NAIG is of special interest with Team88, the campaign by NAIG to highlight the 88th Call To Action in the #Truth and Reconciliation report. It calls for greater support for Indigenous athletes through events like the Indigenous games.
"I think it’s about time," he said. "I think it’s great that we’re doing this — it’s nice to see that the barriers are slowly coming down, and hopefully for the next 150 years, we’re still here, that’s the main thing." A member of Team Ontario’s under-14 team evades defenders from Team Minnesota. (Cameron Perrier/CBC) Follow along the latest NAIG action on our live blog .
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