Regina hosted the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) July 20 – 27. The theme of the 2014 Games was Raising the Bar.
Along with the 14 different sports athletes could enter the NAIG also celebrated North American Indigenous Culture with traditional art, dance at the opening and closing ceremonies.
Team B.C. took home first place at the Games with a total of 160 medals; 63 goal, 49 silver and 48 bronze.
Four of Quesnel’s accomplished young athletes added to the medal count at the NAIG, travelling to Regina for the event.
Swimmer Brad Swyers returned home with five medals, diving in to claim bronze in the 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle and the 100m breaststroke. As well as winning a gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
“During the week we spent our free time practicing with our team, competing or taking in the Cultural Village that was set up outside of the First Nations University of Canada,” Swyers said.
“There we learned many things about our heritage. The experience is one I will never forget and the people I met were amazing.”
Taking on the athletics division was 18-year-old Brayden McCall, winning a silver medal in the javelin throw as well at coming in eighth place in discus.
Chase Ballendine played on team B.C.’s lacrosse team for the event, working alongside players from all across B.C. to win fourth place overall.
Quesnel softball player Kyra Buchan also attended the NAIG, helping team B.C. take the gold medal in softball. Buchan played five games throughout the event, losing only one of the five games played. With players across B.C. and only 12 hours of practice to prepare for the event softball’s team B.C. took on the competition.
During the first game Buchan’s swing scored the tying and winning runs, earning her the game saver award for the first game of the event.
After her experience at the Games Buchan has every intention to return in three years, this time trying out for the U19 team.
Many friends and family supported Buchan on her trek down to Regina for the Games as well as local businesses, giving donations and gas cards to help support Quesnel’s local athlete.
In preparation for the Games, Quesnel softball coach Pat Jones spent extra hours on the field with Buchan as well as the regular training for the house league games.
“It was bigger than I thought it would be,” Buchan said.
“After we won our medals we went to the mall and on our way there people were stopping and asking for pictures with us. They knew who we were and exactly what team we played for.”
A week of culture and competition, the NAIG ended in a final closing ceremony celebrating the efforts of all the teams and athletes.