An up-and-coming athlete was the inspiration for a partnership between Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Iskatewizaagegan #39 – Independent First Nation to completely refurbish their local basketball court.
The new court was unveiled on June 23, 2023 during a community event featuring Emily Mandamin, the first person from Iskatewizaagegan #39 – Independent First Nation to earn a college basketball scholarship to a U.S. college. The court is a special space for Emily, as it’s where she taught herself how to play basketball.
Iskatewizaagegan #39 is located on Shoal Lake, which straddles the border of Ontario and Manitoba.
“OLG is honoured to shine a light on Emily’s incredible journey and is proud to advance her legacy of creating safe spaces for play and recreation,” says Duncan Hannay, OLG’s President and CEO. “OLG celebrates Emily and Emily’s community as we aspire to build new pathways of understanding and respect while advancing the principles of Truth and Reconciliation.”
The court features a mural by Indigenous artist Alicia Kejick, a local, self-taught artist whose art is inspired by honouring her culture and way of life. The mural is based on “Ziigwan” (zee-gwan) which represents the season of spring and is the beginning of a new year in Anishinaabe culture. A time for new beginnings, energy, lessons, and possibilities.
During the community event, the NBA hosted a basketball clinic on the new court led by its clinicians and retired WNBA Legend, Tammy Sutton-Brown.
“Many young Indigenous athletes have the skill but lack the resources and opportunity to succeed. This court was a safe place for me growing up, and now it can be a place of possibilities for others,” says Emily Mandamin. “As I accomplish my goals as an athlete, it’s important for me to share my success. Thanks to OLG, my community now has a basketball court that not only is new and functional, but it’s a court that we can truly call our own.”