Community support immense for ‘healing games’

Isobel White is impressed with her community of Whitefish Bay after an initiative by the local women’s group to hold a mini-Olympics to promote healing and unity was greeted with enthusiasm.
The Naotkamegwanning Winter Games, held there during the March Break, went beyond the expectations of organizers, White said.
“Everybody is just talking about it now, and all had a good time,” she remarked, noting everyone from small children to the elders took part.
“Activities were all over,” she continued. “Everybody was following [the schedule of events].”
Community members participated in events like floor hockey, broomball and obstacle courses. There was even a torch relay.
Numbers were strong at all the events scheduled throughout the week, White said, not to mention a few that just happened.
“They had a fish fry on Wednesday at the elders’ centre,” she noted. “It wasn’t planned. Somebody just donated a lot of fish.
“Saturday they had a fish derby. That wasn’t planned, either,” she remarked. “What they all caught, they brought together and had a fish fry.
“I was pleased when that happened.”
Even Treaty #3 Grand Chief Francis Kavanaugh, who comes from the Whitefish band, joined in the celebrations, crowning the King and Queen of the games during the closing ceremonies.
“He was all over at the square dance. He was even there playing musical chairs–though he was one of the first ones out,” White laughed.
The type of community involvement seen last week was the very reason why the Naotkamegwanning women’s group pushed to have the games in the first place.
White said too many people there have grown apart over the years, adding the band needs to come together as one again.
“We need to unite the people,” she stressed. “Twenty years ago, there was a lot of sharing, a lot of helping. We wanted to bring it back–and we did see a lot of that.”
The winter games were just one step in a part of this healing process, White said. For it to continue, groups like the Naotkamegwanning women will need the support and encouragement from the band chief and council.
And indications are that’s what they’re going to get.
“This week it really showed,” White said. “Chief and council where there [at the bonfire] getting wood. They mentioned they wanted to have it again.
“They’re already talking about next year.”