Lacrosse coaches take part in a ceremonial blessing before a game at the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley.

Lacrosse coaches take part in a ceremonial blessing before a game at the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley.

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

To commemorate the longstanding history that comes with 40 years worth of BC Games, the Cowichan Valley will forever be remembered as the first to host all-Indigenous teams at the provincial championships.

For the 2018 BC Summer Games, the society partnered with the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council to create dedicated teams in traditionally First Nation sports such as box lacrosse and basketball. In canoeing and kayaking, additional spots were provided for Indigenous athletes and coaches too.

“I think people get inspired when they see something like this,” said 16-year-old Clinton Kaboni of Merritt.

“I think of it like we’re the Jamaican bobsledding team, you know, it’s never been done before but we’re here. We’re just here to have fun. I think everyone is excited to play us – I’m excited to play everybody else.”

Clad in purple, Kaboni was one of about 15 players representing the Zone 6 Vancouver Island – Central Coastal and Team Indigenous on the box lacrosse floor.

Over in basketball, the Zone 7 North-West team was made up of athletes and coaches mostly from Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert, and quickly became the underdogs of the tournament.

This team, like others from the region, took two-and-a-half days to arrive, starting with a six-hour ferry ride to Prince Rupert, followed by a two-hour drive to Terrace. There, they hopped on a plane to Nanaimo and shuttled to the valley.

The team also faces some disadvantages on the court as well: a majority off the team was made up of 11 and 12 year olds, competing against mostly 13 and 14 year old players, and their tallest player stood at 5 foot 11.

Although neither team medaled, this year’s Games were about more than inclusivity for the young boys and girls, and instead an opportunity to grow their identity, stand tall with pride and play with heart, said lacrosse coach Buzz Manuel.

“The bigger goal is to have our athletes walk away with a big sense of pride and a strong understanding of who they are and where they come from,” he said.

Indigenous posters welcome guests in Hulquminum

Organizers of the games also infused ancient traditions of the Cowichan Tribes, led by Chief William Seymour, at the opening and closing ceremonies, including through a blessing, blanketing ceremony and performances.

Outside the lacrosse box and other venues in the Cowichan Valley, welcome signage written in English and French were joined by messages written in the Hulquminum language – the most prominent spoken word of the eight First Nations in the region.

Translated by Dr. Luschiim (Arvid Charlie), the signs include a bit of the long sports history Indigenous athletes share.

“They’re putting us on their level, like we’re equal,” Kaboni said. “We have the right to speak our language… they’re accepting we have our own language and we speak it and I like that a lot.”

– With files from Arnold Lim


Follow along with Black Press Media’s full coverage of the B.C. Summer Games here.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Craft Culture Events hosts its first of four summer markets at Prospera Place in Kelowna (Craft Culture Events/Contributed).
Kelowna’s Prospera Place summer market a success

Craft Culture Events hosts its first of four summer markets and vendors were ‘excited’ to be back

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
UPDATE: West Kelowna fire crews rescue injured mountain biker

The injury took place at the top of Smith Creek Road

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Most Read