After 12 days, three countries, nine cities, seven basketball games and endless sightseeing in museums, castles, monuments, churches, restaurants and shops, the James Bay Eeyou School’s Lady Warriors basketball team could say they experienced a trip of a lifetime.
With 12 girls, our first day included two airplane trips, a bus ride and a short journey from Holland to Belgium. We had the pleasure of a small taste of home when we stopped in Vlaardingen, Holland to enjoy a Dutch lunch with Tienke Mosert and Robert Harris (a Chisasibi nurse and doctor).
Our two days in Brussels, Belgium included a day and night tour of Grand Place, “the most beautiful square in the world,” where the girls listened to singers, ate Belgium’s famous waffles, indulged in rich chocolate and displayed their square dancing skills. We also visited Brussel’s oldest statue and on Palm Sunday we visited the magnificent St-Michel Cathedral, which was built in 1226.
Before we left Brussels, we stopped to see a panoramic view of the city from a 102-metre-high structure called the Atomium, known throughout the world as the symbol of Brussels.
When we returned to Holland, the Lady Warriors challenged the Leidendorp Junior National Basketball team in an exhibition game in the city of Leiden. After the game, the girls had a traditional Dutch meal and stayed in the homes of the opposing team players. Everyone enjoyed the experience of staying with Dutch families, especially comparing cultures.
The following day, we strolled along the many canals, visited the oldest botanical gardens in Europe, shopped in the numerous stores lining the streets, ate lunch by the water and enjoyed learning about Holland from our “tour guide,” the coach of the Leidendorp Junior team. That evening, we had our second exhibition game against a team named “Blitz” from Voorschoten, Holland. The Lady Warriors put out a very good effort and once again were hosted by the players’ families for dinner and a homey place to sleep.
The third country we visited was Luxembourg, where we explored the capital city. This ancient city was built around a castle that later became a fortress. We travelled around the city by foot through tunnels and caves, which gave usa vivid image of how people lived in medieval times. After a night of exploring, eating and sharing ghost stories, we ventured out of the city to visit the impressive Vianden Castle, which dates back to the ninth century.
Back in Holland, we were greeted with Dutch hospitality once again in Den Hague fora three-day international tournament. After two days of hard basketball, lots of eating and some dancing, the girls came away with t-shirts, water bottles, basketball posters and new friends from countries all over the world, including Hungary, Belgium, Holland, Great Britain and Germany.
Throughout our stay in Holland we were overwhelmed by the generosity, kindness and hospitality of the European people. As a token of our appreciation, we gave our host families, tournament organizers and volunteer tour guides various hand-made gifts symbolizing Cree culture.
For our final two days in Europe, we ventured to Holland’s capital, Amsterdam. We indulged in an excellent traditional lunch of
Dutch creperies just next door to the famous Anne Frank house. This museum was profoundly moving for our group as it is the main center for the city’s anti-racist movement. The interest of the girls was so great that most of them purchased the classic, The Diary of Anne Frank. With only a couple of hours left in Europe, the group had one last chance to spend their Dutch guilders in Amsterdam before heading to the airport back to home sweet home, Chisasibi.
We would like to thank everyone who gave donations to make this once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe possible. Not only did our 12 athletes come away from this trip a much improved basketball team, but they also now have a better awareness of European culture, the languages and the traditions of the people. The experience brought the entire group closer together and left us with fond memories and new friendships.
The following students went on the trip:
Mimic Neacappo, Liette Neacappo, Lisa Bobbish, Rachel Bobbish, Joanne Sam, April Moar, Lois Blackncd, Leigh-ann Gates, Angela gates, Christina Kitty, Leona Shem, Elaine Stewart
Sarah Glisky, Cathy MacKenzie, Robin Phillips
Annie Gates, Helen Atkinson