Since the early development of various sports in history: the power of sport to make change, to bring people together, to have fun, to save lives became a very important purpose. One of the primary results from participating was and is holistic health, together with happiness and hope. For most children any positive and mental activity of play has one or more of the above benefits. The best source of the power and spirit of sports and games at this stage is the imagination and creativity of the child. You can create or make your own game that can bring your friends together, invite others, have fun and bring happiness. The hidden power is the call of hope to do it again every chance you get. Sooner or later it may become friendly competition and healthier lifestyles that motivates or encourages you to try your best, to pursue excellence or being the best you, you can be.
Traditionally, for Indigenous Peoples, what are now some mainstream competitive sports were and are traditional games that were actually a way of survival and life. Running, cross country, steeplechase were a part of hunting, for example: deer, elk, moose. Walking to gather herbs or berries. Archery was also used to hunt on foot or on horseback; canoeing and swimming were skills necessary for fishing. In the winter: snowshoeing, shooting, cross country skiing (biathlon), javelin or harpoon. These are some examples but there is also a uniqueness in that as a part of our culture, these activities all have ceremony and thanksgiving as part of the doing. In other words, there is a spiritual aspect for each which makes sports and traditional games a holistic perspective. So as we learn from each other we experience the balance necessary for success in every endeavour.
The stories you will read or have read about our “Hall of Famers” and what this all means is the importance of sports in the promotion of sacred teachings and especially the promotion of peace. Every Olympic Games there is an Olympic Truce where all countries who may be at war or have inner conflict put their arms or weapons down during the Olympic Games in the search of peace. What an accomplishment that is when carried through. Sport has that power to bring peaceful co-existence. In each of the athletes’ stories are those elements when there is a time for that inner peace with discipline, in order to achieve personal goals. It is the same formula for any dream we may have to succeed, the fundamental key to the larger challenges is like for any team: “we have to work together!”
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame has a very important role to play in advancing Peace and Reconciliation and one of the ways is to tell the National story about Indigenous athletes in history. I am personally so grateful for all those that have been honoured knowing that it has not been easy for any of them to accomplish what they did for family and country. Reconciliation is about “having good relations” and the more we know about each other and the more we work together, building on the strengths of each other, the more united and stronger Canada, “our home and native land” will be.
Chief Wilton Littlechild