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Champs welcomed home from games 

Team Kahnawake won big at this year's FNEC Inter-School Games, brining home medals and banners. Courtesy Tammy Whitebean

Team Kahnawake returned home to a parade lining the streets last weekend, with medals galore to show from their efforts at the First Nations Education Council (FNEC) Inter-School Games in Quebec City.  

“He had fun,” said Tammy Whitebean, whose son Tehotsiston Diabo came home with a silver medal in the age 10-12 floor hockey category. “I was proud of him and how hard he worked to get there, it just showed how much he’s committed to his sports.” 

The team’s mission lead Shakowennenhawi Deer made sure that all of Kahnawake’s staff and athletes were looked after throughout the games, which took place from May 23-26 at Laval University. 

“The kids were just so excited, especially as we got closer to the games, it was just all they could talk about, just constantly,” he said. “When they’re placing medals they’re all happy, but overall the team spirit was really there. Even if one of our guys didn’t place, they were still really happy and excited, and everyone was just there supporting each other.” 

Overall, Team Kahnawake brought home 76 medals, including one gold and one silver in the age 16-18 and age 10-12 floor hockey categories respectively, as well as one gold and one silver in the age 10-12 volleyball category. 

Medals were also awarded for fourth and fifth place in track and field and in the Ancestor’s Challenge.  

In track and field, Team Kahnawake took home 10 golds, 14 silvers, 13 bronzes, 10 fourth places, and nine fifth places. In the Ancestor’s Challenge they took home four golds, two silvers, four bronzes, three fourth places, and three fifth places.  

New shirts and swag helped Team Kahnawake look the part while they competed for victory. Courtesy Walter Whitebean

It was the first year that students from Kateri School, Kahnawake Survival School, Karihwanó:ron, and Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionterihwaienstáhkhwa competed as one Kahnawake team, instead of as four individual schools. 

Basketball coach Walter Whitebean said he was delighted to see the schools come together. 

“They had a really great time and the chemistry they had was great. Even to see them arm and arm with each other being all from different schools was great to see,” he said. 

“The highlight for me was seeing some of the kids that I’ve coached that never really played sports get their first basket,” said Walter. “It’s pretty powerful stuff. And you can see it on their faces.” 

Tammy said that the event is another reminder of the commitment the community makes to kids chasing their sporting dreams.  

“The opportunities for our children in sports are amazing, and the work that volunteers and parents put into their children’s successes is amazing,” she said, adding that Tehotsiston said he has awesome coaches. 

Deer said that he’s looking forward to seeing where Team Kahnawake will go now that they’re taking the FNEC games on as a united front.  

“The team spirit was there and the sportsmanship was there – both on the floor and on the stands,” he said. “There were smiles on all the kids’ faces and all the staff’s faces, just everyone was working hard, and everybody was there for our kids.” 

Upon their return on Sunday, the community organized an impromptu parade, welcoming the young athletes home with cheers. 

“I truly believe this parade was even bigger than the Indigenous Games (NAIG) parade, cars went from the tunnel to the arena,” Walter said. “There were so many people on the streets and in the parking lots honking their horns and enjoying the parade. It was a really big thing for our youth and Team Kahnawake as a whole.” 

evedcable@gmail.com 

This article was originally published in print on May 31 in issue 33.22 of The Eastern Door.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.