Summer Games comes to Wagmatcook next week
Community to host over 2,500 athletes in 23 events, August 20-27; all sporting, cultural events free to attend
The 2017 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games are just days away and the host community of Wagmatcook is abuzz with anticipation for the week-long event.
“We can’t wait to welcome the athletes, their families and everyone in the surrounding area to our events,” said Terry Bernard, Mi'kmaw Physical Activity Leadership Coordinator, who began planning the games last November.
Organizers are expecting between 5000-6000 athletes and spectators at this year’s games, coming from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec. The Baddeck and surrounding area has already experienced a swell in tourist numbers this summer even compared to last year’s banner year. With the help of the Summer Games, those numbers are expected to stay strong throughout the month of August.
Among 2500 registered athletes, 200 are from Wagmatcook. The games invite athletes ages 5 and up to participate in the 23 events. “A 65-year old women just registered for the horse shoe toss today,” said organizer Monica Googoo during final registration and pre-games rally at the Wagmatcook ballfield on August 11.
Googoo says one of Wagmatcook’s strengths has always been the tug-of-war event, but the most popular sport remains baseball with over 53 baseball teams registered to play in several divisions. The Legends Baseball Game is expected to draw a big crowd on August 24th at 7:00pm.
Fellow organizer Amanda Googoo says that a traditional triathlon will be added to the roster that includes a 3km run, a 1 km canoe ride and archery. There will also be more skillbased games like washer toss and the traditional bowl and dice game, Waltes (see Vol 25 Iss 3 of The Victoria Standard for a review of the game by Mary Louise Bernard).
While athletes must have First Nation status and have work or residence ties to one of the participating communities, Bernard stresses that Wagmatcook welcomes everyone to come out to watch the games, take in nightly entertainment and participate in the festivities at large. In addition to sports and entertainment, there will be arts and crafts demonstrations, sunrise ceremonies and traditional song and dance. Admission is free for all events. The Games’ full schedule can be viewed at www.2017nsmsg.com.
Wagmatcook last hosted the Games in 2011. The annual event currently cycles through six First Nation communities - Eskasoni, Membertou, Millbrook, Wagmatcook, Waycobah and Potlotek. Organizer Valerie Bernard says additional communities have expressed an interest to host the games.
The Mi’kmaw Summer Games began in 1972. The most recent incarnation of the games began in 2010 when the First Nation communities of Cape Breton agreed to financially back each year of the games, regardless of the host location. For a comprehensive overview of the history of the games, see Maureen Googoo’s “History of the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games” published on kukukwes.com on August 14, 2016.
2017 Mi’kmaw Summer Games organizers, (L-R) Amanda Googoo, Monica Googoo and Valerie Bernard at the August 11 rally. Asked if they would be participating in this year’s games, they laughed. “We don’t have time.” Games organizers are expecting 5000-6000 people, including 2500 athletes ages 5 and up. For full event schedule, visit: www.2017nsmsg.com.