Ath­letes thrilled to be com­pet­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - STEVE MILTON

There are more than 5,000 young ath­letes in the North Amer­i­can Indigenous Games, which started July 16 and run un­til Sun­day. More than 2,000 of the ath­letes have been stay­ing at NAIG’s West­ern Hub at McMaster Univer­sity all week. Here’s a cross-sec­tion look at three of them:

Gabriella Cor­bier

Gabriella Cor­bier spends a lot of time in the out­doors, and was orig­i­nally sched­uled to pad­dle in only ca­noe­ing events at the Wel­land In­ter­na­tional Flat­wa­ter Cen­tre. But she’s also ad­ven­tur­ous and climbed into a kayak for the first time, and even­tu­ally fin­ished fourth in the U-16 1,000 me­tres. “The guys wanted to try out kayak­ing, so they went just out­side the dock and started fall­ing over into the wa­ter,” says the 16-year-old from the Aun­deck Omni Kan­ing First Na­tion on Man­i­toulin Is­land. “I said, ‘I’ll give it a shot,’ and took it out. It was real wob­bly at first and I al­most flipped a cou­ple of times, but once you start mov­ing, you get stead­ier. I went back to the dock, and they said, ‘We’ll put you in kayak, too.’ “In the race I al­most tipped and brought in a bunch of wa­ter. I was in sec­ond for quite a while but even­tu­ally fin­ished fourth.” Cor­bier comes from a small re­serve and goes to Man­i­toulin Sec­ondary School, where she also com­petes in long jump, javelin and run­ning events. “I’m start­ing to like kayak­ing now and want to fol­low it to the NAIG Masters, and hope­fully I can prac­tise it at our camp (cot­tage) for the next three years and try it again at NAIG when I’m 19.” Cor­bier plans to go to univer­sity or col­lege for “some­thing out­doorsy” and is lean­ing to­ward marine bi­ol­ogy or per­haps be­com­ing a con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer. And she’d like to re­turn to Man­i­toulin Is­land when she fin­ishes her post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion. “I see my­self liv­ing on my re­serve un­less I can’t get a job there,” she says. “It’s just so quiet and it’s the out­doors and you can do a lot of stuff. We’ve got the nice clean lake down there, nice bush. When I come to Toronto the smog is so bad I hate com­ing out of my car … I just have to cover my mouth. When you get back to the land, it’s so fresh. And I get to go out in the bush ev­ery day. “It’s a good life.”

Gabriella Cor­bier

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