- By Kaili Berg
It was a successful outcome for Team Saskatchewan, bringing home more medals than any other delegation at the 2023 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Nova Scotia.
The 2023 games mixed Indigenous culture with sporting events and brought together about 5,000 athletes, coaches, and mission staff from 750 Indigenous nations across the continent.
The 10th edition of the games was the first since 2017 after cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chef de Mission (person in charge of Team Saskatchewan), Mike Tanton said this year was every athlete's first time ever competing in the games.
“It was a new experience for all of them. That played into a lot of the excitement of athletes not knowing exactly what to expect at the games. Not knowing how awesome the games are going to be, and to see so many young Indigenous athletes all in the same place,” Tanton told Native News Online.
With the games now concluded, Team Saskatchewan brought home a total of 175 medals, including 51 gold, 63 silver, and 61 bronze medals. Team Saskatchewan was followed in medal standings by Team British Columbia, with 161 medals, and Team Ontario, with 127 medals.
Most of Saskatchewan’s medal wins took place on July 19 and 20, with 59 total medals won each day.
The Saskatchewan team had about 100 Indigenous coaches helping and 430 athletes competing in a variety of sports including traditional canoe/kayak, archery, and box lacrosse, also soccer, softball, swimming, volleyball, wrestling, beach volleyball, rifle shooting, badminton, baseball, and basketball.
Closing ceremonies were canceled this year due to the devastating rain that began Friday evening, July 21, when approximately 9 inches of rain was dumped along Nova Scotia.
“The biggest win is seeing our athletes experience the games, come home and want to accelerate with their sport more. There's a ton of other indigenous athletes out there that are doing their thing and handling their business, Tanton said.
“The real win for me is when our athletes continue on and go and play post secondary education sports.”
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