August 13, 2017 1:29 pm
Updated: August 13, 2017 8:43 pm

Alberta Indigenous Games record a spike in attendance

WATCH ABOVE: More than 1,000 kids are set to participate in the Alberta Indigenous Games this week in Edmonton, smashing the previous attendance record. Kim Smith reports on how the spike in attendance would have thrilled the event's founder.

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More than 1,000 kids are registered to participate in the Alberta Indigenous Games this week in Edmonton, smashing the previous attendance record.

The sporting event is held every two years and in 2015, 485 youth participated.

Games coordinator Jacob Hendy said organizers lowered the cost to register this year from $100 per athlete to $400 for an entire team.

He also credits social media for the spike in participants.

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“It shocked us. I was like, we might have 600, then it was at 700, then it was at 800, then everyone on the board was ‘oh what is it going to end at?'” Hendy said.

READ MORE: Athletes from around the world bring culture and competition to Alberta for Indigenous Games

The games were founded by the late Allan Ross, who passed away from cancer shortly after the 2015 event. Hendy said Ross’s goal was to reach 1,000 participants.

“He’s deeply missed but he truly loved youth and he truly loved being able to give back to the community,” said his daughter Marnie Ross, who is one of the organizers.

“He would be so excited. He would just be so happy.”

“He would have been thrilled with the number of kids we have this year. This was his dream,” Hendy said.

The event is meant to bring together indigenous and non-indigenous youth for a week of competition and culture. This year, more than 70 teams are participating in ten sporting events.

The opening ceremonies were at 4:00 p.m. Sunday at Rundle Park. The games are on until Thursday at venues throughout the city.

WATCH: 15-year-old archery champion Warren Collins won silver at the North American Indigenous Games last month, and has his sights set on the Olympics.

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