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Rigoberto Palacias, one of 82 delegates who travelled from Panama, practises archery on Sunday morning at Tomahawk Park in Enoch Cree Nation. (Gaetan Lamarre/CBC) For many of the athletes who have travelled to Alberta for the World Indigenous Nations Games, it’s as much about competition and culture as it is about supporting one another.

Delegations from 29 countries, with representation from even more Indigenous nations within those borders, will take part in the opening ceremonies at Bear Park in Maskwacis on Monday night. The games run until July 9, with events also taking place in Enoch Cree Nation.

On Sunday morning, a number of those who arrived early gathered at Tomahawk Park in Enoch Cree Nation for archery practice. On the sidelines was canoer Atilano Flaco from Embera Quera in Panama.

Flaco is a veteran of the WIN Games, having competed and won a gold medal in the first-ever iteration of the event two years ago in Palmos, Brazil.

‘We come with unity in the different nations — not just in Panama, [but] other nations in Canada," Flaco explained, through Giuseppe Villalaz, who travels with the team and translates.

Villalaz has been following the process in Canada.

"What’s happening with the reconciliation is ‘wow’ for me," Villalaz said. "This is good."

In Panama, he said the relationship of Indigenous nations with the government can also be up and down.​Villalaz said when it comes to Indigenous rights, dialogue is contentious, but the government supported sending the delegation of 82 athletes to Alberta. Sport a common denominator Areceio Olman, a coach with Paraguay delegation’s soccer team, said through translator Mauricio Rivera that among the 19 different nations from that country, the sport is the common denominator. Areceio Olman, who coaches the soccer team that travelled from Paraguay, says the sport has united various nations within […]

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