The torch for the Lake Placid 2023 International University Sports Federation (FISU) World University Games passed through Kahnawake today, but there was no flame in sight.
That’s because the torch is powered by LED lights. Its fossil fuel-free design is emblematic of a shift towards sustainability that winter-sports lovers are trying to instigate in an effort to prevent climate change and preserve winter, according to the event’s organizers.
The games will begin on January 12 in Lake Placid, New York, which is traditional Haudenosaunee territory.
Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) chief Harry Rice explained to THE EASTERN DOOR that originally, the athletic council for the games reached out to Akwesasne, who then redirected them to Kahnawake.
“We agreed to participate in the torch relay, where we can actually honour our own students,” said Rice. “I just think it’s important to honour our own on an occasion like this.”
The event took place on Thursday afternoon and featured over a dozen current, former, and future student athletes from Kahnawake who served as torchbearers.
At the arena, members of the Concordia Stingers and some of Kahnawake’s own hockey stars held a clinic for local girls hockey players. This was followed by the opening ceremonies, and then the procession across town to the Kahnawake Youth Centre, where community members enjoyed a Christmas craft fair, fun bounce, rock wall and more.
Elder Otsi’tsaken:ra Charlie Patton opened the ceremony in Kanien’kéha, giving thanks to Creator and Mother Earth, and touching on the theme of sustainability that this year’s games are striving for. The opening ceremony also included remarks from Ashley Walden representing the FISU and Gary Sutherland from Hydro-Quebec.
Rice acknowledged Kahnawa’kehró:non Olympians Alwyn Morris (1984) and Waneek Horn-Miller (2008), and thanked the director of the MCK’s Sports and Recreation Unit, Roiatate J Horn, for the integral role he played in organizing the event.
Members of the community lined the route that the torchbearers took, cheering them on with signs and screams.
THE EASTERN DOOR also spoke with Brooke Stacey as she was stepping off the ice. Stacey, a forward for the Montreal Force in the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), helped lead the hockey clinic alongside the Concordia Stingers and served as a torchbearer.
“I think it’s really important to give back where you can. I think it’s a great initiative, and there should be more,” said Stacey.
The Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games will end on January 22, and will host over 1,500 athletes from 600 universities and 50 countries.