The man who created the Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games back in 1974 will now have the event named after him.
The games will now be known as the Tony Cote First Nations Summer/Winter games.
Cote created the games because he noticed many Indigenous children were excluded from playing sports.
“We’ve got to try and prove ourselves, we’ve got to try and prove to the rest of Canada and Saskatchewan that we too can compete, we’re very competitive and it’s happening now,” Cote said.
“I’m proud of that.”
The event started with about 500 athletes taking part. In 2017, there were over 3,000 athletes taking part in a variety of sports.
Elmer Eashappie, summer games manager, has known Cote for a long time and brought the idea to rename the games to the board.
He said the games have affected tens of thousands of people.
“If we had a magic wand and if we took (away) everybody affected by Tony Cote’s vision, I think there would be a lot of empty places in the world, a lot of empty places in schools, especially in the sports industry,” Eashappie said.
George Cote, chief of Cote First Nation and Tony’s grandson, said it was an honour to see his grandfather’s name grace the games.
George participated in the very first event back in 1974.
“Tony has a lot of impact in regards to empowering our youth, getting them to showcase their talents and to get together and to compete against one another,” he said.
As for Tony Cote, he said the honour is still sinking in.
“I felt great, I felt very proud and I said ‘Well at least I’ll be known for a little while anyway,’” Tony said.
The 2019 summer games will be hosted by the Meadow Lake Tribal Council.