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Young P.E.I. lacrosse players learn indigenous origins behind sport

Members of P.E.I.’s team for this year’s North American Indigenous Games, from left, Nelly Jadis, Michael Jadis, Marcus Peter-Paul and Dylan Knockwood take part in the “Honouring the Creator’s Game” event held by Lacrosse P.E.I. in Morell on the weekend. The four will be a part of the 28 Islanders who will compete in the games, which are being held in Toronto this July.
Members of P.E.I.’s team for this year’s North American Indigenous Games, from left, Nelly Jadis, Michael Jadis, Marcus Peter-Paul and Dylan Knockwood take part in the “Honouring the Creator’s Game” event held by Lacrosse P.E.I. in Morell on the weekend. The four will be a part of the 28 Islanders who will compete in the games, which are being held in Toronto this July.

MORELL, P.E.I. — P.E.I. lacrosse players got a history lesson recently on Canada’s official summer sport and its roots in the indigenous community.

Many were surprised to learn the origins of lacrosse during the “Honouring the Creator’s Game” event held at Morell Soccer Complex, which saw more than 300 attend the opening ceremony.

Although the day saw matches for all ages, it also included prayers, a drum circle and indigenous storytellers.

Julie Pelletier-Lush, of the Mi’kmaq Legends group, shared the story of the very first lacrosse game.

The story goes that the first game was held between “the animals and the birds.”

Pelletier-Lush said although they were all different sizes, everyone got to take part. In the story, the birds also turn a small mouse into a bat so the mouse is able to play.

Pelletier-Lush said the inclusive story shows that everyone has their own strengths and values to contribute.

“The whole theme of the story is, when you have all these kids listening to it, they can all say ‘you know, I might be a mouse, I might be the smallest one on the team but I still have something to offer’,” said Pelletier-Lush.

“And then you make that even bigger so every one of these children has a place in the community.”

The event was also part of an initiation reaching out to P.E.I.’s indigenous communities.

Brad Bissett, referee in chief with Lacrosse P.E.I. and a member of the Canadian Lacrosse Association’s national indigenous development committee, said the two goals were educating all participants of the game’s origins while also ensuring the game is brought to indigenous communities throughout Canada.

“We have a responsibility and interest in growing the sport while not forgetting about the origins of the game,” he said. “Honouring the game is very important.”

The group is also working with U.S. sponsor StringKing to supply lacrosse sticks to indigenous communities in P.E.I.

“That will start up here in the next few months. We just received the sticks so we’ll be going to the communities and supplying them with sticks so they’re able to play.”

A barbecue at the event also directly supported P.E.I.’s team in the North American Indigenous Games, which are being held in Toronto this July.

Craig MacDougall, co-ordinator of P.E.I.’s Aboriginal Sports Circle and chef de mission for the team, said there will be 28 athletes going to the games.
He hopes the sport, as well as others introduced to aboriginal communities like flag football, continue to grow.

“The kids are having a blast,” said MacDougall. “You do it because you look at the kids’ faces and they’re super pumped.”

mitch.macdonald@theguardian.pe.ca
Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

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