It started back in 1974, and this year, the 43rd Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games is being hosted by the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council in Regina.
Around 4,000 athletes between the ages of 13 to 18, from all four corners of the province, are gathering on Treaty 4 territory to participate in the annual event.
Among them is Nathaniel Poorman, a gold medal-winning beach volleyball player from Kawacatoose First Nation.
He said he can’t wait for what’s in store this year.
“It’s always fun. I get to see old friends and meet new friends,” said Poorman. “Hopefully we can play and win in our sports.”
He adds that the best preparation is a “winning attitude.”
Also travelling from her home community of Kawacatoose First Nation is Dawnis McIver, who’s at the games to compete in the throwing events.
Despite just winning gold at the 2017 North American Indigenous games, she said no competition is too small.
“I’ve always looked forward to coming to the (Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games) every year,” McIver said. “Representing my tribal council makes me happy.”
At the opening ceremonies, FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron told CJME that the games symbolize connectedness between youth and their tribal councils.
“No matter how tough life gets, (the young athletes) understand and know that each and every one of them is loved and valuable to every one of us — and they are,” he explained.
Chief Cameron added that the event goes deeper than sport.
“(The young athletes) are building self-esteem, self-confidence, they’re building friendships and relationships, they’re building social skills — that’s really what these games bring,” he said.
This year, 74 Saskatchewan First Nations communities from 10 tribal councils across the province are competing in archery, track and field, beach volleyball, canoeing, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer and softball.
The Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games are on until Friday.