Eric Clarke on the TeamAlberta bench at the NAIG on July 17 with Clarke wearing number 10. (NAIG photo)
Nicholas L. M. Allen
Jul 19, 2023
A local teen is participating in the North American Indigenous Games for Team Alberta
A local teen travelled to Nova Scotia for the North American Indigenous Games, running from July 15 to 23.
Eric Clarke is playing Box Lacrosse for Team Alberta representing the Crowsnest Pass at the games on the Under 16 team. He tried out for the Under 16 team last year and at 12 years old actually made the team according to his father Charles Clarke.
“He’s playing with kids that are two to three years older than him,” his father added.
This year, the 10th North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) is hosting competitions in 16 sports within 21 venues across Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Dartmouth, Millbrook First Nation and Sipekne’katik in Nova Scotia.
NAIG 2023 is bringing together more than 5,000 athletes, coaches and team staff from over 756 Indigenous Nations with the help of 3,000 volunteers.
Charles said Eric is “super excited” for the opportunity to play at the games. He explained how they are trying to run the games in a similar fashion to the Olympics. He has received all the Alberta gear to wear according to Clarke, including a helmet, new gloves, stick bag and other gear that were all given to him.
“We’re super proud of him. He lives and breathes lacrosse. He’s done very well. He’s done a lot of practice on his own accord. We’ve been there to support him as opposed to making him do this or that,” said Charles, “We supported what he’s wanted to do.”
He has played for the Lethbridge Cudas, the Southern Alberta Lacrosse Association’s Sting team and now Team Alberta, leading a busy schedule the past three months.
Although he is only 13 years old, this is his ninth year of playing lacrosse after starting at only four years old.
“He’s had a lot of time and dedication towards the sport and his efforts are paying off and the fact that he’s getting the opportunity to go and represent Alberta with the Indigenous team and he’s excited to do so,” said Charles.
According to the NAIG website, the games help Indigenous athletes realize the collective potential of “the bodies, minds, spirit and of our people – our hopes and dreams – the spirit strong, brave and true” with the 10th North American Indigenous Games continuing the dream of holding Games for the world’s Indigenous Peoples which began in the 1970’s.
In 1977, the dream to host large scale Indigenous Games took a step forward in Sweden at the Annual Assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. Willie Littlechild presented a motion to host International Indigenous Games where it was unanimously passed. A Brazilian elder was so moved, he presented Willie Littlechild with a war arrow representing peace in his tribe and advised it to be pointed to the ground as this arrow would direct anything evil toward the underground. It is now part of the sacred ceremonial run. In 1990, Edmonton, Alberta hosted the ﬁrst ever North American Indigenous Games.
More information is available at naig2023.com.