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This year's Games mark the second time that they have been held in an urban setting. The Prince Albert Grand Council hosted the sporting event in Prince Albert last year. The trend towards cities hosting the Winter Games was based largely on addressing the accommodation needs of 2,500 athletes. And, along with those athletes come their coaches, chaperones and devoted fans.
However, Glen Pratt, Games Coordinator, says that the urban setting provides a number of additional benefits. "Having [the Games] in the city gives them a little more exposure," he says. "A lot of our own First Nations people don't know about them."
The urban location also provides a change of pace for youth from isolated communities. A number of the participants have never before experienced a city setting. "The Games give our youth from remote communities a chance to see the city," Pratt maintains.
Planning is now well underway to provide these young people with a real show. Pratt says, "We're trying to make the opening and closing ceremonies more exciting." The opening
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Photos were taken in Prince Albert
during the 1997 Winter Games.
Photos by Lindsay Bear
A number of non-sporting events are planned throughout the week to keep the youth involved and active when they are not competing. A MuchMusic Dance Party is scheduled for Monday evening. The SaskTel First Annual Aboriginal Youth Awards will be held Tuesday. Sponsored by SaskTel and the Wicihitowin Foundation, the awards will recognize the outstanding achievements of young Aboriginal people.
In terms of guest appearances, comedian Don Burnstick will be performing during the week. And, NHL Coach of the Year, Ted Nolan is also expected to make an appearance.
Athletes will compete in four medal sports. Hockey will be featured at the main venue, the Regina Agridome. Broomball, volleyball and badminton will be played in venues around the city. These venues will also feature the demonstration events.
Sporting action will continue throughout the week. Finals and medal presentations for most sports will be held Wednesday. Hockey finals and medal presentations will wrap up on Thursday, April 16. In addition, an all-star hockey game is planned, followed by closing ceremonies. "It will be a hectic week but that's the way we like to keep it," says Pratt.
To ensure that all of the scheduled events remain on track, the involvement of volunteers is critical. There are now 14 committees creating plans for all aspects of the Games from finances to registration to food services. "They have a lot of initiative and drive," states Pratt. "It's nice to see that there's some good support out there. Overall, everybody supports our youth and that's the main focus."
For more information about the 1998 Saskatchewan Indian Winter Games, or to volunteer, call 1-888-711-1998. The Games begin April 13 with "Pack the Dome" at 1:00 p.m.