Wahpeton Dakota Nation welcomes home Commonwealth lacrosse champion McLeod

Click to play video: 'Wahpeton Dakota Nation turns out to welcome home Commonwealth Cup champion McLeod'
Wahpeton Dakota Nation turns out to welcome home Commonwealth Cup champion McLeod
WATCH: Elders, friends and supporters from the Wahpeton Dakota Nation were waiting for 16-year-old lacrosse player Brody McLeod, returning home to Canada after winning the Commonwealth Cup in Australia – Feb 24, 2024

Passing through the arrival doors at Saskatoon International Airport on Saturday afternoon, 16-year-old Brody McLeod had no idea what was waiting on the other side.

Expecting to see just a handful of immediate family members, McLeod instead was greeted by over a dozen members of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation.

“I didn’t know that all of these guys were here,” said McLeod. “I was just told that my mom, sister and sister-in-law were here. I saw them first when I was going down the escalator and then I saw everyone else. I was like, ‘Oh my god.'”

With the sound of drums echoing through the arrivals area, a crowd of elders, friends and supporters were on hand to welcome McLeod back from a lacrosse trip that took him halfway across the world to Australia.

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First to run to him once those doors opened was his mother Carmen Fourstar, embracing her son after a lengthy week and a half away from the people closest to him.

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“Seeing him I was just extremely happy and very, very thankful he was taken care of and he came home safely,” said Fourstar. “When you’re a mom, you’re always worried.”

McLeod is coming off a stint with Team Canada at the 2024 Commonwealth Cup, where Canada defeated a team of Australian all-stars 15-6 in the final to capture the tournament championship.

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Arriving back in Saskatchewan along with teammates Ryan Horbay and Dillan Scott on Saturday, it was a whirlwind experience for the Wahpeton Dakota Nation teen.

“Never once in my life had I thought that I’d be playing with Team Canada,” said McLeod. “Even going across the world to play lacrosse.”

Influenced by the Thompson brothers in the National Lacrosse League, Brody and his two brothers decided to try their hand at Canada’s national summer sport in 2019 and did not look back.

Seeing Brody return back to Saskatchewan with championship memories shared with his adopted brother Colby Thomas from the Saulteaux First Nation, it has been a tidal wave of emotions for Fourstar since the tournament’s initial faceoff.

“It’s going to be something that I’ll forever cherish because we’ll never get this moment again,” said Fourstar. “We’ll never get Brody coming home a champion with Team Canada.”

Wahpeton Dakota Nation Chief John Waditaka was also on hand for the welcome ceremony, wanting to shine a light on the young lacrosse talent for other athletes in the community.

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“This is an achievement that will last a lifetime for him,” said Waditaka. “That’s something that all our young people can look forward to as well. I thank him for breaking barriers, tearing down the doors and following his dreams.”

McLeod finished his tournament with two goals and one assist in three games, while he was selected to be the player to take the opening face-off for Team Canada in their first game against Adelaide.

A moment which Fourstar remembers vividly watching live back home in Saskatchewan.

“I was screaming,” said Fourstar. “I was so happy. It was just the cherry on top and it was just such a proud moment.”

A driver of the Commonwealth Cup is to help accelerate the development of lacrosse in Australia, as Team Canada was joined in a round-robin along with teams from Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.

That was followed by a winner-take-all championship tilt between Canada and an all-star Australian team made up of the top players in the tournament from the host nation.

While Canada’s experience far outweighed the Aussies, McLeod was impressed with how hard the opposition was able to compete over the week.

“They actually played good lacrosse over there,” said McLeod. “Each game we won by 10 points, but they were good lacrosse players over there. They could shoot, they got the defence.”

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For Waditaka, that push towards development and collective enjoyment of the sport is something he believes McLeod should take equal enjoyment out of along with raising the Commonwealth Cup itself.

“It’s not only about competition, right?” said Waditaka. “It’s about the friendships and everything that sports allows that transcends all the glitz and glamour, giving our young people an opportunity to reach for their goals.”

Upon his surprise of seeing a sea of familiar faces Saturday, McLeod was presented with a traditional eagle feather and blanket to symbolize his journey through lacrosse and his safe travel home.

“I liked it because I didn’t know I was getting them,” said McLeod. “Just getting them put around me, getting the eagle feather I felt good.”

Fourstar’s family has used lacrosse as a way to both give her children a chance to stay active, while also celebrating the traditional aspects of the ‘creator’s game’ that has been so meaningful for the Saskatchewan Indigenous community.

Paving the way for a memorable reunion with her son which she won’t soon forget.

“It just shows how much people support your youth and the children from your communities,” said Fourstar. “It’s very important that the children see that, that the youth see that they’re supported.”

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