Members of the P.E.I. team are finishing off final practices before the 2017 North American #Indigenous Games. (Tom Steepe/CBC ) Youth on Team P.E.I. are ready for the challenge of competition in the upcoming North American Indigenous Games in Toronto.
This year’s team of 41 athletes, coaches, managers, chaperones and mission staff is the largest ever.
"I’m happy. I can’t wait, I’m really excited," said 12-year-old sprinter Markus Peter-Paul, who said he is most excited to compete.
Four of the P.E.I. athletes are returning to their second Indigenous Games, but for the other 24, this year’s event will their first taste of competition at this level.
"It’s like the Olympics, kind of," said Peter-Paul who’s never been to Toronto before. "It’s gonna be crazy!" P.E.I. Athletics coach Jim Donovan works with 12-year-old sprinter Markus Peter-Paul on his power out of the blocks. Michael Jadis, an 11-year-old athletics competitor, said he was extremely excited to meet other athletes from across North America, and a little bit nervous.
"Just looking forward to having fun," Jadis said, sharing he’d been practicing hard. "There’s going to be a lot of people there!"
Jadis is already hoping to return to the next Indigenous Games in 2020, he said, when he’ll be more experienced. ‘Just like to compete’
Shanelle Jadis is competing in athletics and is excited to show what she can do. The team has been training hard for the last several months, she said. Athletics coach Jim Donovan helps athlete 11-year-old Michael Jadis with his shot put technique. "I just like to compete!" Jadis said.
"They’re pumped," said Craig MacDougall, Team P.E.I.’s chef de mission and sport development coordinator with the Mi’kmaq Confederacy. "This is their time to shine and their time to have fun."
"From our standpoint, we want them to really have fun … competition is there, that’s what they’re going there for, but sports are fun. Just to have a lot of fun and be able to come back and be ambassadors of the game."
Along with sport, week-long cultural festivals will be held featuring traditional teachings, Indigenous artists, vendors and cultural performers.
The Games run July 16 to 23. The opening ceremony is Sunday and will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca beginning at 8:30 p.m. AT.
Athletes from P.E.I. will compete begnning on Tuesday.
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