It’s a big week for a group of young Prince Edward Island athletes.
They are part of Team P.E.I., which is comprised of 28 athletes under the age of 18, competing at the first Atlantic Indigenous Games in Halifax, which began on Thursday and runs through until Sunday.
“I’m really excited and hope to do well,” said 12-year-old track-and-field athlete Madison Brown, who will compete in the 400 metres, 1,500 metres and long jump. “I love running long distance. It’s going to be fun.”
Lynn Anne Hogan of Kensington is Team P.E.I.’s chef de mission.
“We have a great representation of Indigenous youth across P.E.I., from Abegweit First Nation, Lennox Island First Nation and off reserves as well,” said Hogan.
P.E.I. athletes, who are supported by a support staff of nine, will compete in badminton, beach volleyball and track and field.
“I’m excited, too,” said 13-year-old badminton player Kavon Bernard of Lennox Island.
After attending the 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Toronto, Bernard has an understanding of what to expect.
“It’s tough competition,” he added.
His goal is to “try to get gold” at the Atlantic competition and earn a spot on Team P.E.I. for 2020.
Brown, who is from North Bedeque, also has previous experience at the 2017 NAIG, where she competed in swimming.
“It was a crazy experience considering I was really young and was competing in something with my own culture,” said Brown.
The Atlantic competition will serve as a primer for the 2020 NAIG, which also will be staged in Halifax.
“I’m sure a lot of these athletes will certainly qualify for that,” said Hogan, who noted tryouts for 2020 will begin late in the summer and run into the fall.
There are a couple of goals for athletes competing in the Atlantic Indigenous Games.
“We set them up because we are trying to reach four social development issues and we want to reach them through sport,” explained Hogan. “They are improving health, improving employability, improving education and decreasing at-risk behaviour.
“Those are the four primary reasons we are doing the Games, but also it sets the stage for NAIG 2020.”
Team P.E.I. roster at Atlantic Indigenous Games:
Mackenzie Thomas (coach)
Cory Annand (support)
Robin Enman (coach)
Kristine Crann (coach)
Lynn Anne Hogan (support)
Track and Field
James David Bernard
Richard Lush (coach)
Craig MacDougall (support)
Derrith MacDougall (support)
Julie Lush (support)