P.E.I. sending team to 2014 North American Indigenous Games

Jason Simmonds
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SUMMERSIDE — Prince Edward Island’s participation at the 2014 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) will be much more than just sports.

The Games began in the 1970s, and have developed a steep history over the years.

“NAIG is as much an athletic competition as it is a cultural component,” said Team P.E.I. chef de mission Craig MacDougall. “There will be entertainment and different cultural activities going on in the evenings and times when they are not participating in athletics.”

P.E.I., which previously competed in the 2002 and 2006 NAIG Games, will send eight Aboriginal athletes — five badminton players, two athletes in athletics and one wrestler — along with three coaches and MacDougall to Regina, Sask., from July 20 to 27.

Team P.E.I. will travel to Regina on July 18.

“The theme of the 2014 North American Indigenous Games is Raising the Bar and the purpose is to showcase unity, sport, culture, youth, volunteerism and teamwork between First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Non-Indigenous communities,” explained MacDougall. “With the preparation, dedication and sacrifice of these athletes, it’s time to recognize the healthy lifestyle choices young Indigenous people and future leaders from all over North America have made.”

Team P.E.I. athletes are equally excited to share their cultures and experience new ones.

“It brings joy and happiness knowing that there are people out there who like your culture, and get entertainment out of

it and want to learn more and more about it,” said wrestler Logen Lewis of Lennox Island. “We get a chance to go out west and not only get a chance to do what you like to do, but there is the cultural aspect of what you are doing.”

Badminton player Hannah Arsenault, also of Lennox Island, added: “There are different communities out there, different cultures and there are so many more people out there than there is on P.E.I.

“I can visit family out there, and I haven’t been out there before.”

Badminton player Savannah Guimond says she is looking forward to see how culture and traditions compare and differ in western Canada compared to P.E.I.

The planning for Team P.E.I. began last November, with MacDougall presenting presentations on the NAIG Games. Athletes mostly trained and competed with club and school teams.

“We wanted them participating at the age level they are at,” said MacDougall. “If they are in junior high they would be participating in junior high badminton, if they are in high school they would be participating in high school badminton.”

Due to a short period of preparation time, Team P.E.I.’s emphasis for this set of Games was on individual sports. However, MacDougall would like to add team sports in the future.

“What we also did because of time was look at individual sports like badminton and wrestling, and not team sports like volleyball and basketball, which would be great, but due to time it would be much harder to get a team of 10 to 12 athletes versus an individual athlete,” offered MacDougall.

Team P.E.I. recently discussed goals during a practice at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside.

“For me a good goal going to these Games would be the athletes coming back as ambassadors, and trying to expand to their communities what a great experience it was,” said MacDougall. “But also to get younger children motivated that there is another level of sports they are able to participate in.”

*****

Team P.E.I.:

Kindra Bernard

Athlete: shot put.

Date of birth: Sept. 23, 1996.

Age: 17.

Hometown: Scotchfort.

Parents: Deana and Richard Beaton.

School: Morell Regional High.

Greatest sport achievements: MVP for volleyball; first place in shot put, and captain for volleyball and basketball.

Logen Lewis

Athlete: wrestling.

Date of birth: Jan. 14, 1998.

Age: 16.

Hometown: Lennox Island.

Parents: Lynn and Bob Lewis.

School: Westisle Composite High.

Greatest sport achievement: second in 2009 P.E.I. School Athletic Association wrestling championships.

Mackenzie Thomas

Athlete: badminton.

Date of birth: Sept. 5, 2000.

Age: 13.

Hometown: Lennox Island.

Parents: Rhonda and Joseph Thomas.

School: Hernewood Intermediate.

Greatest sport achievement: third in doubles at 2014 provincial badminton tournament.

Megan Morrison

Coach: wrestling.

Years coaching: 20.

Hometown: Charlottetown.

Greatest sport achievement: 1991 Canada Games athlete (rhythmic gymnastics); 2005 Canada Games coach (wrestling).

Savannah Guimond

Athlete: badminton.

Date of birth: July 13, 1997.

Age: 16.

Hometown: Lennox Island.

Parent: Kim Guimond.

School: Westisle Composite High.

Greatest sport achievement: third in the 2012 west zone badminton championships.

Hannah Arsenault

Athlete: badminton.

Date of birth: Oct. 24, 1997.

Age: 16.

Hometown: Lennox Island.

Parents: Kate and Ivan Arsenault.

School: Westisle Composite High.Greatest sport achievements: second place in provincial badminton doubles in 2009; fourth place in singles in 2009.

Bailey Labobe

Athlete: athletics.

Date of birth: Feb. 17, 2000.

Age: 14.

Hometown: Tignish.

Parents: Melissa McRae and Jason Labobe.

School: M. E. Callaghan Intermediate.

Greatest sport achievement: second in provincial high jump.

Alyssa Jo Bernard

Athlete: badminton.

Date of birth: July 24, 1999.

Age: 14.

Hometown: Lennox Island.

Parents: Emily Bernard and Matt French.

School: Hernewood Intermediate.

Greatest sport achievement: first

in singles and doubles at 2011 provincial badminton championships.

Jim Donovan

Coach: athletics.

Years coaching: 16.

Hometown: Summerside.

Greatest sport achievement: Black Belt in Karate Shinkyokushin.

Jack Sark

Athlete: badminton.

Date of birth: Dec. 7, 1997.

Age: 16.

Hometown: Lennox Island.

Parents: Mary and Darcy Sark.

School: Westisle Composite High.

Greatest sport achievements: gold in judo in Buffalo, N.Y.; first place in badminton singles in Grades 8 and 9.

Jordan Cameron

Coach: Badminton.

Years coaching: 3.

Hometown: Summerside.

Greatest sport achievement: Holland College most valuable player in 2011.

Organizations: Holland College, North American, First Nations

Geographic location: SUMMERSIDE, Regina, Prince Edward Island Sask. North America Canada Buffalo, N.Y.

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