When the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team were left out of the 2022 World Games, it didn’t sit well with Mi’kmaq teen and lacrosse player Aidan Fearn, from Glooscap First Nation in Nova Scotia.
The 18-year-old knew he had to do something and so he started a petition online in order to spread the news and the news spread quick.
“Within the first two minutes, there were over 500 signatures,” said Fearn, who is attending The Hill Academy, a lacrosse prep school in Caledon, Ont.
“It blew my mind. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Word spread quickly online and 53,000 signatures later, the petition has helped spur a change.
The eighth-seeded team Ireland decided to step back and offer their spot in the tournament to team Iroquois. Last week, the 2022 World Games organizing committee announced the Iroquois were in.
“They were the ninth-place team if you include the Iroquois Nationals,” said Fearn. “So I think that’s fair but they didn’t have to do that. So by them doing that is huge and much respect goes out their way.”
Halifax Thunderbirds forward and Iroquois Nationals team member Kyle Jackson said it felt like a slap in the face when his team, the Nationals, weren’t invited to The World Games being held in Birmingham, Alabama in 2022.
“For not including us, the creators of the game, was disheartening to say the least,” Jackson said.
The Iroquois routinely finish in the top three at international lacrosse tournaments and deserve to be there on their own merits.
Jackson, who is Chippewa and played for team Iroquois at the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships held in Netanya, Israel, says for the Indigenous players putting on the Iroquois jersey and representing their nation the Haudenosaunee confederacy, it’s an honour no different than a hockey player putting on the Canada jersey.
“For the Iroquois Nationals, there are a select few world tournaments they get to contribute in and so I feel when you do get to put that on there’s an extra sense of pride every time,” said Jackson.
Cody Jamieson is a member of the Iroquois Nationals and captain of the Halifax Thunderbirds and says they are a sovereign nation with their own Haudenosaunee passport and flag and it’s time other countries and tournaments recognize that.
“This is bigger than lacrosse,” said Jamieson. “Canada has to recognize us being here and the U.S.A. has to recognize us as our own sovereign nation.”
The 2022 World Games is also a trial for the sport of lacrosse to make it to the Olympic Games.
If the sport makes it there, the Iroquois Nationals want to fly their flag.