Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"We don't care about the score, we care about who wins."

Jazz Comegan
The three-day event (Treaty 3 Territory Mixed Native Curling Bonspiel) assembled twenty-four teams from neighboring reserves and non-indigenous residents from Kenora. Ken Kakeeway’s team lost the A-side finals to the Miroslav Medicine team by a score of 9-5. The Tom Ricard team won the B-side finals, and Monique Medicine team won the C-side finals.
Co-coordinators of the bonspiel Donna Indian, Larry Morrison, Guy Henry and Delores Medicine explained that events such as these have a purpose, “It’s the feeling of participating in an event that’s First Nations organized and where the majority of players are indigenous persons,” said Indian.
First Nation Communities in Northwestern Ontario do not have curling facilities in which to promote the sport. Some indigenous curlers have admitted during this weekend’s bonspiel; that this is an issue. Indian spoke of this and perhaps other social barriers that make sports oriented activities such as this latest bonspiel…so vital.
 “We know there are lots of curlers out there, and they don’t curl on a regular basis, but we make sure that we get them to participate during this bonspiel….All the ‘nish (First Nations) curlers," added Indian smiling. Indian and Morrison are of the view that distance and the lack of curling rinks inhibit those within the communities of Whitefish, Sabaskong, and others from participating, “…they either can’t travel or have the necessary funds ($200 entry fee) and none of the First Nations have a curling rink,” commented Indian.

(L-R) Loranda Tom, Miroslav Tom,
Dolores Medicine, Gary Tom
Roland White from the Whitefish First Nation community agreed, “When Sioux Narrows did have a curling rink, (condemned due to age) it was just a 10 minute drive. Now we have many people who curl but not on a league basis. Getting a rink back in Sioux Narrows is something that we really want to see happen.  We have a lot of players who enjoy curling.” Morrison explained that efforts were made to organize some sort of league, but lacked the support of communities outside the Kenora area, “It’s the cost….we would need to raise or come up with $5000.00.”
Nevertheless, for the past ten years members of the curling community have steadily labored to attract the necessary corporate sponsorship and private donations to make the annual Treaty Territory Three bonspiel event a reality. “Ever since we've been involved with this, it’s become more and more popular,” commented Morrison. “It has a lot to do with socializing, everyone has fun. We try to fund-raise as much as we can so that we can put almost a 100% of the cost towards prizes.”
Of course, when we speak of curling, the question of ice quality is paramount, “The advantage we have here in Kenora is the ice…its quality and the way if performs for curlers. It makes a big difference and a major motivator for people to participate in our bonspiel,” confirmed Indian. Morrison, Indian, and their co-coordinators also appreciate the contributions they have received, “…they donate monetarily or in the form of door prizes. We wouldn't be able to offer the range and quality of prizes had it not been for many corporate local contributors, (i.e. Copperfin and JM Plumbing) and individual donors,” commented Indian. 
Of course, winning is always a part of the game and Morrison makes no bones about it, "We don't care about the score, we care about who wins," he said grinning. While that may be true, most of the participants have said that what really makes this bonspiel so special is that they are one big family. 

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent article show casing the difficulties First Nations have with providing recreational activities within their own communities. If the adult community is struggling the number of youth must me astronomical. I'm curious what types of fund raising has been tried. Is there a designated fund people can donate to. Has something like tickets sold for something like a lesson for jingle dress dancing, learn to cook a traditional First Nations meal.