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For the second time within the last six years the Prince Albert Grand Council hosted the Saskatchewan Indian Winter Games April 16 to the 19, 2001. And for the second time as host of the games, participation records for athletes attending the games were broken.
There were an estimated 3,000 First Nation youth athletes descending upon Prince Albert to compete in Hockey, Volleyball, Broomball, and Badminton. The games officially commenced following the formal Opening Ceremonies Sunday April 15, 2001 at the Prince Albert Comuniplex Arena.
Immediately following the dignitaries' opening well wishes was an indoor firework display and the traditional "Lighting of the Torch". Trevor the Moose, Winter Games mascot, amused the crowd and youth participants during the athletes' parade with a few new powwow moves and set the mood for the week.
The success of the 2001 Saskatchewan Indian Winter Games can be attributed to the hard work and planning of Prince Albert Grand Council and its contingent of dedicated volunteers.
"At times it seemed like I was doing 60 things at one time" exclaimed John Fitzgerald, Sports and Recreation Director for the Prince Albert Grand Council. Fitzgerald was one of the key organizers and one of the people who contributed countless hours in providing a first rate event of this magnitude.
This year's edition of the games witnessed a significant change in the competition schedule for the games' participants. The younger groups, Novice, Atoms and Pee-wee competed in the first half of the week with the older groups, Seniors, Bantam and Midgets arriving in Prince Albert to compete in the later half of the week.
Fitzgerald explains, "The reason why we did this is because in the past the games have cost a fortune feeding, sheltering and providing enough venue space. By splitting the age categories it cuts cost down by half."
In the first half of the games, Fitzgerald estimated about 1370 athletes, coaches and chaperones with second half numbers hovering around 1780 people.
"The Winter Games are normally held during the Easter break to allow the kids to go from school to the games and then back to school." Fitzgerald adds. " With the split, families can get a bit of break during the holidays."
Women Hockey is now an Olympic event and was introduced as a new competition to this year's games. Women's Hockey was demonstrated in hopes of
Winter Games 2001 Athletes' Parade,
The Games organizing committee featured arm wrestling as this year's demonstration sport to replace the usual fighting sports such as boxing, wrestling or tae kwon do.
"Arm wrestling will still allow the kids to go back home and be proud of their victories and accomplishments" Fitzgerald states.
This year's games also highlighted a Provincial First Nations Role Model and Wellness Program. The Provincial Role Model program was open to all First Nation's youth and not limited to games participants only. The Role Models were First Nations youth nominated by Saskatchewan's 10 Tribal Councils and selected on the merits of their various achievements in academics, athletics and community.
The PAGC Health Department is to be commended for hosting the Wellness Program. Various venues were stationed throughout the Winter Games to educate the games participants about healthy lifestyles and wellness initiatives.
The Wellness Program provided information on such topics as smoking, dental health, drugs, alcohol consumption, safe sex and even about the importance of drinking water.
The legacy of the games provides a few days to come together and compete against old and new friends, build self-esteem and confidence of our future First Nations community leaders. The Prince Albert Grand Council were excellent hosts and truly honored the principles of the 2001 Games' theme, Strong Hearts, Strong Minds, Strong Nations.
|1st||Meadow Lake Tribal Council||449 pts|
|2nd||Prince Albert Grand Council||333 pts|
|3rd||Battlefords Tribal Council||323 pts|
|4th||File Hills/Qu'Appelle Tribal Council||294 pts|
|5th||Saskatoon Tribal Council||294 pts|
|6th||Agency Chiefs Tribal Council||280 pts|
|7th||Onion Lake First Nation||246 pts|
|8th||Yorkton Tribal Council||246 pts|
|9th||Touchwood Agency Tribal Council||204 pts|
|10th||Southeast Treaty #4 Tribal Council||156 pts|