Over-competitiveness at sports matches is getting out of hand and is hurting relations between Crees, say Cree youth.

“There’s an overemphasis on competition,” said James Shecapio, president of the Cree Youth Council.

“It’s one thing to win, but the important thing in the cultural tradition of the Crees is for everyone to come out as a winner, feeling good about themselves and remembering each other in a good way.”

The youth council discussed the problem at its quarterly meeting at the beginning of March, held in Waskaganish. Several youth representatives worried that athletes and fans are becoming less civil toward each other at sports matches.

They were particularly concerned about the upcoming Quebec Aboriginal Minor Hockey and Boomball Tournament in Val d’Or, which started March 10.

The competitiveness has led to exchanges of hostile comments and even fist-fights, said Shecapio.

“We’re not trying to put down the tournament. We’re trying to enhance it by trying to promote the importance of respect and unity at events like this. These young people will eventually become our leaders. People should not go home feeling like losers,” Shecapio said.

He said the competitiveness and violence are promoted by the media and educational system. “If this gets worse, it could affect the future of our people. ”

Shecapio said Cree athletes and leaders should come up with ways to foster cooperation and unity instead of competition.

One possible way, he said, is to create all-Cree sports teams with players from every community to compete in Quebec-wide sports leagues or against other First Nations.

“We should give a message to Crees that they can all be teammates regardless of their community.”