When I was growing up in Attawapiskat, I never had access to a wide variety of sports. Like most northern communities, hockey was the prominent sport that everyone took part in.
During the winter just about every youngster in the community played hockey at the local outdoor ice rink. Even in the summer time hockey was not forgotten. Several years ago, many of the dedicated hockey players in the community started organizing regular floor hockey sessions in the evenings at the elementary school gymnasium. Today there is the Reg Louttit Sports Complex, a state of the art hockey arena which is busy all winter long. It also provides a playing surface during the summer months for roller blade hockey.
The only other sports that were played in Attawapiskat included baseball and soccer in the summer and even some badminton, basketball and volleyball. None of these rivaled the game of hockey.
It has only been since I have lived in the non-Native world in the south that I have had the opportunity to watch and participate in other activities. Sports such as golf were always foreign to me. Like most people I saw golf as an elitist sport that could only be played by very few. For the past three years I have had the privilege of attending an annual golf tournament hosted by Wabun Tribal Council, a Native organization that represents six First Nation communities in the Timmins area. This has been a great introduction to a sport that has always been far from my world.
The Annual Wabun Tribal Council Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament is an event that brings Native and non-Native people together to enjoy the sport of golfing, the outdoors and the company of friends. The event is dedicated to providing scholarship funds for post secondary Wabun students. This event draws a good number of participants who have some skill in the game and others who have never golfed before.
I attended the event as a guest with a friend of mine and we went out to watch the golfers swing their clubs on the long manicured greens of the golf club. It was fun to watch people who have played for a long time but it was also equally as enjoyable to see others who were playing for the first time. Native people love to have fun. You can imagine some of the humorous scenes I witnessed on the greens as first time, First Nation golfers whacked the daylights out of those tiny little white balls.
It is possible that some of the balls that I saw being hit will never be found. I saw a few land in marshes and lakes. I was also pleased to find that many of my friends that I saw participate for the first time in this event a couple of years ago are now avid golfers. However, I don’t think I will ever forget that unmistakable sound of a golf ball cutting through the air very near to my head. I learned quickly to not assume that because a person was aiming to hit a ball in the right direction that this would in fact happen. I spent a lot of time hiding behind trees and cautiously approaching these novice golfers.
I also saw a really healthy scene where Wabun leadership, staff people, community members and non-Native people joined together to socialize and get to know each other a little better. People like Shawn, Jason and Barney Batise and other organizers of this event have a lot be proud of. These are people who are always pushing the envelope. They are striving to be the best they can be and while they are doing it they are giving a lot of other people the confidence and realization that we can do anything if we want to. Meegwetch to the event’s main sponsor Northern Telephone and other sponsors which included: First Nation Engineering, Bank of Nova Scotia, Watson Parojcic Many Nations Trust, Ontario First Nation Technical Services Corporation, Uniglobe Tri Pro Travel Limited, Barry’s Ford and Mattagami Construction.