More than 1,600 athletes from the 13 Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia have gathered this week in Membertou First Nation to compete in the 2016 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games.
It’s the second time Membertou has hosted the annual sporting event since the games were revived in 2010.
The games officially got underway late Tuesday afternoon with the opening ceremony at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre. Runners who took turns running 325 kilometres from the Millbrook First Nation to Membertou entered the convention centre to deliver a scroll written by the Millbrook First Nation Chief Bob Gloade to Chief Terry Paul.
Millbrook First Nation hosted the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games in August 2015.
“In the spirit of our ancestors, we send this messenger runner in the present day to deliver a message from Millbrook First Nation,” Gloade read from the scroll.
“The summer games represent rewarding relationships, building new friendships and continue the bonds that hold our nations together,” Gloade said.
“It is with honour and privilege that I congratulate the community of Membertou First Nation for hosting the 2016 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games. In friendship, we sincerely hope that good fellowship and friendly competition will prevail,” he said.
Scroll run a “modern” tradition of NS Mi’kmaw Summer Games
Christopher Googoo, who is from Waycobah First Nation but now lives in Millbrook, was one of the organizers for the scroll run for this year’s summer games.
According to Googoo, 54 runners from various Mi’kmaw communities in the province took turns running while holding a special scroll created for the summer games.
“We used last year’s scroll which was made by Whitney Gould (from) Waycobah,” Googoo explained.
“There’s some little mementos in there, good luck charms in there that people put in as they do their prayers while they run,” he said.
Googoo, who organized last year’s scroll run to Millbrook First Nation, said he organized this year’s run because it’s an important “modern day tradition” that should happen every year.
The first scroll run took place during the 1978 Nova Scotia Indian Summer Games in Paqtnkek Mi’kmaq Nation.
“When I started researching it, I noticed that we do have a lot of traditions like basket-making, cultural traditions but we don’t have any modern day traditions to be proud of,” Googoo said.
“(The scroll run) is as old as the summer games. I thought it was important to bring that back and bring the people back,” he said.
About 5,000 people expected to attend NS Mi’kmaw Summer Games
Organizers for the 2016 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games have been preparing for this event for the past year, explained Krista Devoe, Mi’kmaw Physical and Activity Leadership Coordinator for Membertou.
Of the 1,600 athletes who have registered to compete in this year’s provincial games, some of those athletes are from New Brunswick and Quebec, Devoe said.
“We’ve had some interest over the past few years, teams coming from New Brunswick and Quebec,” she said.
“We’ve also had some inquiries from the United States. The word is getting out there. It’s fantastic,” Devoe added.
Among the sporting events taking place include:
- Special Olympics
- 5 km race
- Track and Field
- Floor Hockey
- Tug of War
- Arm Wrestling
Devoe also said the community expects the number of people who show up to watch the various competitions throughout the week to reach 5,000.
“We also have a lot of people from outside of the community here in the heart of (Cape Breton Regional Municipality), so we draw a crowd in,” Devoe said.
“Everybody wants to know what Membertou is up to lately,” she said.
Membertou will be providing catered meals to all of the athletes, their coaches and volunteers throughout the week. The community has also cleared an area for people to camp for free.
There’s also evening entertainment scheduled for all ages. The band, Donna’s Boy, is scheduled to perform. There will also be a youth social, a street dance for children and a family day held in Membertou while the games take place.
The games wrap up with a closing ceremony on August 21.
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