Tony Cote Summer Games comes back after two-year hiatus
- NC Raine | May 18, 2022
After a two-year hiatus, this July will mark the return of the Tony Cote Summer Games – an event expected to draw upwards of four thousand people.
At an announcement of the games’ return, leaders across Saskatchewan reverberated a consistent message: the impact of sports on youth is immeasurable.
“Sports teaches the youth about playing on a team, about losing on a team, about winning on a team. Those are lifelong skills that you can carry. It’s invaluable,” said Darcy Bear, Chief of Whitecap Dakota First Nation.
This year’s games, hosted by James Smith Cree Nation, will take place in Saskatoon and area from July 24-30. The sports youth will be competing in are: archery, beach volleyball, athletics (track and field) soccer, canoe-kayak, softball, and for the first time, golf – which will be held at the Dakota Dunes Golf Links on Whitecap Dakota First Nation.
This is the first year James Smith Cree Nation is hosting the event. Chief Wally Burns said the community is honoured to host the event, but will continue to be mindful of to keep everyone safe as the pandemic is ongoing. Protecting the youth is what events like this are all about, he said.
“Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow. We have to protect them and make sure they don’t fall through the cracks,” said Burns. The games, which were first held in 1974, are an important part of growth and development for Indigenous youth, said FSIN Vice-Chief David Pratt.
“(The past two years) were a difficult time for all of us,” said Pratt. “I think (the break) had an impact, especially on our young people.”
“So for us to be able to come together, at one of our signature events at FSIN, we are all looking forward to it,” he said. Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand said he has personally made many memories at the games, participating in both the summer and winter events. He knows first-hand that the experiences can stay with a young person for a lifetime.
“You’re creating partnerships, you’re creating relationships, with everyone. That’s something to stand behind,” he said.
“Our games have now become a place where leaders are made. People who participated in these games are now fathers, mothers, grandparents, leaders of companies, entrepreneurs, doctors, dentists. That’s what we have to keep striving for. Our people can make a difference in this province and country.”
FSIN Vice-Chief Aly Bear also has a close connection to the games. Her home First Nation, Whitecap Dakota, is hosting the athletes and some of the athletics events that she herself grew up participating in. Bear said she competed in her first games at the age of five, when she was technically too young to participate. “That was one of my core memories. I remember it feeling like a really big moment. You feel acknowledged. You feel seen as a young person for playing sports, and being celebrated,” Bear told Eagle Feather News.
Bear said playing team sports through her life helped give her structure and discipline. She looks back fondly on the times when being on a sports team meant specific rules and curfews. She believes youth participating in the summer games might receive those same benefits.
“You learn to work on a team, to be a team player. That’s something you need to know in life going forward when you’re going to work in any environment. Being able to win, to lose. Those are things that come with participating in sports,” she said.