Youth head to inter-school games
Every year the First Nations Education Council’s (FNEC) inter-school games (ISG) bring together hundreds of Indigenous youth to build community with one another around a shared passion for athletics.
On Wednesday, 55 Kahnawake students and their chaperones piled into two buses headed for Quebec City for this year’s ISG. Kahnawake youth have been attending the inter-school games since its inception in 2008, but this is the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that Kahnawake Education Center (KEC) schools are sending students.
“It gives the kids an experience of sports. It gives them a chance to meet up with different Native communities around Quebec,” said Shakowennenhawi Deer, a teacher at Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionterihwaienstáhkhwa who will be chaperoning the school’s delegation.
There are 30 students attending the games from Kateri School, and 25 from Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionterihwaienstáhkhwa, as well as a smaller group attending from Karihwanoron School.
Unfortunately, this year’s competition fell on the same weekend as Kahnawake Survival School’s (KSS) prom, leaving FNEC-games-hopefuls without teacher chaperones to take them.
The students, who will return on Sunday, have the opportunity to enjoy social activities unrelated to sports: the FNEC has rented out Mega Parc, an amusement park located inside a shopping mall.
“They can come together in a different atmosphere, and hopefully make connections and develop friendships that will continue,” said Janice Beauvais, KEC’s student and community engagement consultant.
The students representing Kahnawake will participate in all four of the ISG’s main events: track and field, ball hockey, basketball, and volleyball. The students were selected based on their involvement in after-school sports programs.
“It’s by their own initiative,” said Beauvais, explaining that students looking to participate just need to demonstrate a commitment by showing up to practice and expressing an interest in attending the games.
Also part of the inter-school games is the “Ancestor’s Challenge,” a mobile obstacle race that provides students with the opportunity to “conquer the hardships of their ancestors’ way of life,” according to the FNEC website.
The FNEC tours the obstacle course around the province, bringing it to different First Nations communities where youth and adults alike will have the opportunity to complete the challenge. It will be in Kahnawake next week from May 22-25 outside the Kahnawake Sports Complex and open to the public from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Thursday.
Nicky Taylor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door