Here are some stories from past NAIG athletes sharing their experiences of participating in the Games. We will be posting these stories as more people send them to us.
My name is Keira Cappo, I am from the Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation. I participated in the North American Indigenous Games in 2002 (Winnipeg) & 2006 (Denver) playing fastball for Team Saskatchewan.
The NAIG experience influenced me very positively because I grew up playing fastball in the Regina Minor Girls’ Softball League and Greenall High School team. NAIG was very prestigious for a rez girl like me to be given the opportunity to play ball in a different province, let alone a different country. By being given these opportunities, I understood that there was opportunity away from my community and more to see and experience out there! I set my sights on a post-secondary education & not knowing what I wanted to do with my life I found my passion: Business Administration. I recently completed my Bachelor of Administration degree from the First Nations University of Canada. I also currently manage & play on a ladies fastball team in Regina called the Mystics with a great crew of like-minded ladies who love the sport as much as I do!
I think it is so important for youth to stay active in sports so they can experience being a part of a team, experience the competition and be challenged. Sports develop the foundation that youth needs to be successful and develop skills to pursue goals. These different skill sets can be used later in all areas of life.
My advice to the youth would be to always take every opportunity to try something new, you might uncover a skill you weren’t aware of, try your hardest & don’t give up. Be proud of where you come from AND always dream big!
My name is Tyler Blenkin; I am a 24 year old who is in my 3rd year of University at the First Nations University of Canada. When I first heard about the opportunity to try out for Team Saskatchewan for the North American Indigenous Games, I was shocked at first. It didn’t really hit me at first to what this chance actually meant. After hearing all about it, I decided to attend the Baseball tryouts. I also knew that this might be my last chance to play at such a high level. I had to make the most of it.
The 2008 Games was unfortunately my last year of playing competitive baseball, but I did everything I could to make it a memorable final year. The 2008 Games also showed me a lot about the history of First Nations ways and how competition can bring many people together. With receiving this knowledge over this week in B.C, I had decided to pursue an education degree with my major being Indigenous Studies. NAIG showed me how coming together as a group is really important and the support from everyone was amazing. Going to try outs with different kids all around the province was nerve racking at first. Seeing your potential teammates and what their skill level opened my eyes a lot. As a First Nations athlete, the opportunity to show our skill level was limited due to the urban areas and society.
The opportunity at NAIG gives us the spotlight to show what we can do against different athletes that are our age from all around North America. Being able to see First Nations athletes finally excel and feel proud of themselves was a great sight. Our team was a very young team, mostly 17 year olds with five 14 and 15 year olds.
In the 4 months’ time frame from May until August, it allowed us to come together as a team and just make new friends. I think that with NAIG being in BC in 2008 brought us even closer because we did everything from eat breakfast together to going to a movie. We were always a group. Being on a team in urban area’s you don’t really get that time to bond because you’re only together during practices and games, as for being an athlete at the Games, you are always with your team.
Even though 2008, was my last year for actually playing the game, it was not my last time being on the diamond competitively. After the season ended that year, I decided to become a softball umpire for the 2009 season. This has been great for me as in the last 5 seasons, I have been privileged to attend two Western Canadian Championships from Saskatchewan and if everything goes as planned, I will be an Umpire for the 2014 NAIG here in Regina Saskatchewan. If I am selected to be an Umpire, I will be very honored to say that I have been an athlete and an official in the North American Indigenous Games. For me, NAIG has given me memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. It brings everyone together as one. These are our Olympics!
Hi my name is Mary Spencer and I am from the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. I participated in NAIG 2002 (Winnipeg) on Team Ontario’s womens basketball team. The opportunity to compete in a highly competitive yet friendly multi-sport atmosphere was second to none. I played basketball for 9 years of my life, so to end my career as a basketball player at 17 years of age in a major games event was very special. It had the organization and excitement of any major sporting event and the culture that is part of the North American Indigenous Games is truly an experience of a lifetime. I am so happy that the Games continue to grow and include more and more young Indigenous athletes who will have the chance to be a part of the amazing experience that is NAIG. I can honestly say that with all of the experiences I have in multi-sporting events including the Olympics and Pan Am Games, NAIG truly were the most unique experience and one I will always remember.