Statement on 2010 First Nations Winter Games

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, another successful Saskatchewan First Nations Winter Games wrapped up this past Friday. Athletes from First Nations throughout the province gathered in Saskatoon to play their hearts out and to make their communities proud. A remarkable 3,500 athletes competed in the games — 1,000 more athletes than the Vancouver Olympics. Yet while this government spent $8 million on its Vancouver presence, its presence at the First Nations Winter Games was negligible in comparison.

I was honoured to take part in the opening ceremonies with First Nations leaders including AFN [Assembly of First Nations] Chief Atleo, FSIN [Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations] Chief Lonechild, and Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Thomas, among others — and, just as important, the young athletes who were eager and excited about this amazing experience. It was virtually impossible not to catch their contagious enthusiasm. It is clear to see that these young people will go on to become leaders in community, business, and perhaps even in government. But the Sask Party government chose not to take part in this event.

The discipline, pride, and overwhelming community spirit displayed by these future leaders is even more impressive in the face of this government’s treatment of First Nations and Métis people — more than two years of disrespect, funding cuts, and zero consultation — yet these games showed their spirit and strength will prevail.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members to join with me in congratulating Chief Felix Thomas of the Saskatoon Tribal Council for hosting these successful games and wishing our congratulations to all the athletes, organizers, and volunteers at the First Nations Winter Games.

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