Some students from the Bella Coola Valley will be headed to this year’s 10th annual North American Indigenous Games.
From July 15 to 23, the nationally-qualified athletes from the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola will be in Halifax to compete in basketball and track and field.
Coach and mentor Sony Legault said he is ‘proud to have so many young athletes play on a national level and believes the kids have the potential to go far.’
“I’ll be training most of them this summer before they go, but they already have their professional coaches that will be watching because there is gonna be over 5,000 athletes and then 476 nations, and that’s all over North America, people from the United States and Canada and more,” said Legault.
The NAIG hosts 16 sports competitions showcasing the strongest Indigenous athletes nationwide.
The games will be held in 21 venues in Halifax, Dartmouth, and Millbrook. Nova Scotia is part of the Mi’kma’ki, the traditional and ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq people.
The students all attend Sir Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School, where there are approximately 90 students, and fared well against teams with 100s of students to make it to the nationals.
Kashlyn Mack will be headed to the tournament to play for team B.C. on the U16 girl’s basketball team.
Danny Legault will compete in the U16 javelin and discus shot put after placing eight in provincials held in Langley June 8 and 9. Legault also broke a shot put record in early May at Prince George’s zones.
Eli Hall and Nathaniel Schooner will compete in the U16 boys’ cross-country run.
Tristen Sellars will compete in the U19 cross country running, and Shaylen Moody will compete in the U16 javelin discus shot put.
Legault says he has seen a boost in kids joining the sports program, and he says it’s because of how much guidance the student-athletes receive.
“I think a lot of people are just supporting them. The school supports them, and the parents, a lot of them, step up and do most of it. I’ve been helping almost three of them getting all that paperwork, and so it’s good for them to go,” said Legault. This is his second year as a coach and mentor to the student-athletes; last year, he helped the school’s junior girls’ teams through provincials. He says he wants to transfer his skills from playing to acting as a mentor for kids.
“I also have another son Damian, who placed in sub-zero track and field,” said Legault.” I spend so much time with them sometimes I almost feel like they’re mine, our kids, you know.”
All eight athletes are grateful to represent the Nuxalk Nation and the Bella Coola area nationally, he added.