Nelson Bird Column

The North American Indigenous Games wrapped up on Saturday July 26th.

Thousands of young athletes, volunteers, and spectators gathered on the grounds of the First Nations University for music, dancing, and fireworks. The event was the culmination of a week of sports action and unity. Regina laid down the welcome mat for everyone and no matter where you went; chances are you saw smiling face of a young athlete who may have been experiencing his or her first visit to Saskatchewan.

Although I did not take in the games personally, I felt a great sense of pride because as I drove or walked I’d see the visiting athletes and talk to them and welcome them to Regina. I may not have attended games or ceremonies but I played a huge role in ensuring the athletes, volunteers and spectators received the media attention they deserved. My position at CTV was to organize all the daily news coverage of the games; as a result, thousands of SK people were able to witness a great event.

But as so often is the case, not everyone shared in the pride of our young people. A few phone calls and emails revealed an uglier side of our city. One viewer insisted the crime rate in Regina would rise as a result of all the “Indians” in the city. Another story we heard was about how one hotel “re-arranged” their morning buffet and replaced their metal cutlery and glass plates with paper ones because the aboriginal’s might steal them; shame on them.

But for the most part, Aboriginal and non-aboriginal came together in a way I’ve rarely seen in our city. My heart swelled with pride when I’d see video or pictures of people celebrating together regardless of race or age or gender.

The young generation taught us all an important lesson ; we can exist and move forward together. I hope and pray that feeling lasts for years to come. The North American Indigenous Games were a great opportunity to dispel many of the negative stereotypes that are out there.

Nelson Bird is a member of the Peepeekisis First Nation.
The views shared are those of Nelson Bird and not those of CTV News.

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