From Tanzania to Russia to Panama, more than 400 athletes from 29 countries are in Alberta this week to participate in the World Indigenous Nations (WIN) Games.
The games kicked off Monday at Enoch Cree Nation. It’s the second WIN Games ever, and the first on Canadian soil. The first edition was held in Brazil two years ago.
WIN sports director Trina Goodin said it’s taken years of preparation to host the event.
“This is an amazing event. To welcome so many indigenous communities, Indigenous nations to our community is truly amazing,” Goodin said.
“They’re ready. They’re proud of who they are and they just want to showcase in the next few days.”
For participants, the event is about more than competing for gold; it’s about representing their culture.
“I’m very excited to train with other people from other nations to learn about their culture,” Panama athlete Atilano Flaco said.
“We are very happy to be here because we can show our culture too.”
Flaco participated in the Brazil games two years ago, capturing gold in canoeing. He’s elated to be in Alberta for the second version of the games.
“I’m very happy, proud to be indigenous. I see the other people to be very strong in spirit, and we are together and unified in this topic because we always stay very happy to meet the other people like us, to be together and to be like a community,” Flaco said.
Along with the games, there will also be education conferences to learn about and discuss topics that impact indigenous people.
“Just in speaking with our visitors, our cultures are so similar. We have so many similar beliefs, so many similar ceremonies and it’s amazing,” Goodin said.
The opening ceremonies will be held Monday night at Bear Park in Maskwacis , with events also taking place in Enoch Cree Nation until Sunday.