Sport as a powerful bridge for indigenous peoples

One summer day in 2004, hundreds of Six Nations of the Grand River residents piled into cars, trucks and charter buses for a two-hour trip along the northwest shore of Lake Ontario. Armed with cardboard signs and noisemakers, we headed to Whitby, where our Six Nations Arrows would face the host Warriors for the Ontario Junior A Box Lacrosse Championship.

We arrived hours before to stake out our seats and hang our signs. Even though this game wasn’t being played at home, we made sure our boys knew their community and their ancestors were with them as they played lacrosse, the creator’s game, which my people have been playing for thousands of years. ‘years.

With hearts full of pride, solidarity and hope, it was hard to miss us. We clapped loudly and, like our Arrows, we wore orange.

Nearly two decades later, when orange shirts are worn on Sept. 30 to honor residential school survivors, the lessons of that Game 7 — a Six Nations Arrows victory that propelled them to the Minto Cup national championships — continue to resonate. resonate and reverberate.

One of my proudest moments was watching our players express their gratitude to the community for their support.

Sport is a tool to help Aboriginal youth. Sport teaches perseverance, goal setting, team play, joy and defeat. It provides opportunities for education, travel and friendships.

The effects of colonialism and residential schools manifest themselves in substance use, bullying, and intergenerational trauma. The wounds, pains and suffering experienced in these schools have been transmitted.

But we are working slowly to break this cycle. Our young people learn their traditions, their ceremonies and their language.

The power of sport to bridge gaps between nations and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is recognized in the Commonwealth’s lək̓ʷəŋən Sport Declaration on Truth, Reconciliation and Partnership with Indigenous Peoples. Presented in draft form at Birmingham 2022, details of the declaration will be presented at this month’s Victoria Forum, hosted by the University of Victoria and the Senate of Canada. It builds on the work of the Gold Coast (Australia) 2018 Commonwealth Games Reconciliation Action Plan.

The purpose of the declaration is to enshrine similar commitments by Commonwealth nations to Indigenous athletes and sport around the world, and to build bridges between communities.

I hope Lək̓ʷəŋən’s statement inspires us all to engage with sport and Indigenous nations. And I foresee the day when Indigenous teams will compete in international sporting events with Indigenous men’s and women’s teams in lacrosse and ice hockey, among other sports.

With vision and support, Indigenous athletes and their fans can dream big. The Haudenosaunee Nationals compete internationally in field lacrosse, a nation among nations. With an effort to be included in the 2028 Summer Olympics, our goal is for our flag, which is based on the Hiawatha Wampum Belt, to fly in Los Angeles in six years, marking a first in Olympic history.

If – when – it happens, Indigenous athletes will take to the field knowing their communities and ancestors are running with them.

Ava Hill is a Mohawk, a member of the Wolf Clan whose traditional name is Iohahatie and who sits on the board of directors of Commonwealth Sport Canada. Hill is a former Chief of the Six Nations Elected Council, a member of the External Advisory Board of the Victoria Forum and a member of the Canadian Advisory Board of Right to Play.

CA Movie

Back to top button