“Now go out there and show the world!”
That was the message that flashed across several large video screens following a welcome message sent from Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority president and CEO Zane Hansen during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Saskatchewan First Nations Winter Games on Sunday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Hansen’s message was one of many that were produced and shown via video for the ceremony, but the main focus was the large group of athletes who were ushered in to the arena, set to begin competitions today through Friday.
“You are going to have a great week in paradise,” said Prince Albert mayor Greg Dionne in his clip shown to the large crowd. “Good luck to everyone and see you during the week.”
Prince Albert Grand Council are the hosts for the 40th edition of the First Nations Games with competitions to be held in a number of sports both in Prince Albert and in Shellbrook.
More than 4,000 athletes and coaches from around the province will be in the city this week with half of those here for the first three days of activities while another group comes in on Wednesday to close out the Games.
PAGC Grand Chief Ron Michel officially welcomed the guests to the city on behalf of the organizing committee while Robert Cote, the son of the Games’ founder Tony Cote, officially declared the Games open.
Athletes and official’s oaths were then read with entertainment from dancers and musicians completing the line-up of activities.
Now the spotlight moves to the athletes with competitions in under-12 and under-14 badminton (Carlton Comprehensive High School and Prince Albert Grand Council), bantam broomball (Shellbrook) and midget broomball (Northern Regional Recreational Centre in Buckland), atom hockey (Steuart Arena), pee wee hockey (Art Hauser Centre), bantam boy’s and girl’s volleyball (Carlton), midget boy’s volleyball (Margo Fournier Centre) and female under-16 basketball (Alfred Jenkins Field House) highlighting the slate of activities for the first half of the Games.
Starting on Wednesday it will be under-16 and under-18 badminton (Carlton and PAGCC), juvenile broomball (Buckland), juvenile curling (East End Rink), bantam hockey (Steuart Arena), midget hockey (Art Hauser Centre), female hockey (Shellbrook), intermediate boy’s and girl’s volleyball (Carlton), midget girl’s volleyball (Margo Fournier Centre) and male under-16 basketball (Alfred Jenkins Field House).
Throughout the week there will be a number of cultural activities including a youth dance on Tuesday and Thursday and a special cultural event Tuesday to Thursday at the PAGCC. Derek Miller and a special guest will play at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Tuesday while a gala banquet is scheduled for Wednesday in the Ches Leach Lounge at the Art Hauser Centre.
The closing ceremonies are set for a 3 p.m. start on Friday in the Ches Leach Lounge at the Art Hauser Centre at which time the torch will be passed to the Ochapowace First Nation who will host the 2015 First Nations Summer Games in July of that year.