The last place I expected to be this past week was following a whole bunch of people around a golf course. In the past when I thought of golf courses this image did not really include First Nations people in Northern Ontario. In my mind golf has always been one of those sports that somebody else plays and for some reason I always considered golf clubs as some kind of country club environment.
Happily, I’m glad to report to you that another myth has just exploded in my face. Not only did I attend the fifth annual Wabun Tribal Council Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament in Timmins, I also watched and was entertained by many of the First Nations people who came to play at this fund-raising event.
This tournament, which has become an annual event, is yet another example that First Nations people can do whatever they want and if the interest includes golf, so be it. Now I have to admit that it was a little funny at times watching some of my friends try to get the hang of this game. There were a lot of swings that didn’t look so graceful and a lot of loud hollers when balls were hit and sent near where they were expected to go.
Thanks to the good people at Wabun Tribal council and especially Shawn and Jason Batise, this popular annual tournament has become a success. Shawn and Jason are what I consider pretty good golfers and I would guess that they really love this sport. I can see they take great pleasure in being able to introduce what was once considered an elitist sport to their First Nations friends. Their rewards were certainly provided with a happy group of people who got a lot of exercise, socialized and at the same time raised funds for a good cause. It was good to see so many people, both Native and non-Native, show up to support his First Nations tournament.
It was also a chance for people from other parts of the province to come north and, through a day on the course, get to know some of us Northerners. Kevin Martin, owner of First Nations Engineering Services, based in Six Nations at Oshwekon, told me he was thrilled with his day in Timmins and that he really appreciated the hospitality at the Wabun event. He was a accompanied by Warren Sault, executive director of Mississauga New Credit, who also seem to be very satisfied to spend sometime with First Nations members in the North.
I saw many of my Ojibway and Cree friends out on the course that day and I must admit I was surprised at how fast they caught on to this game. A couple of times I saw myself standing in places that weren’t the best for my safety, considering that these little white balls really speed through the air. I got a great kick out of watching Rose Anne Ojeebah and Marjorie Miller, both of Wabun Tribal Council, as they raced along like old pros in their nifty golf cart.
I guess the best part about Wabun’s golf tournament was that all the money that was raised goes to scholarships for three Wabun students this year. A big meegwetch is in order for the organizers of the tournament and all those who showed up to support it. I know this event is yet another example of how good things can be.