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Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Summer Games
History of the Games
The NSMSRC studied the formation of the Nova Scotia Mikmaw Summer Games to its beginnings back in 1977 in Chapel Island, Cape Breton. The original games for Mikmaw had its start as the Maritime Indian Summer Games which were held prior to 1977 in Big Cove, Kingsclear and Tobique, New Brunswick. They were also held in Nova Scotia in the communities of Indianbrook and Eskasoni. These games were from what we can gather, funded through regional Federal government dollars at Indian Affairs from per capita regional funding.
The Maritime Indian Summer Games had a conflict with Nova Scotia communities almost immediately as these Maritime Games were being held on the dates that were planned yearly for the Chapel Island St. Annes Mission in Chapel Island and Merigomish, Nova Scotia. These dates were considered sacred as flocks of Mikmaw gathered at these two locations to pay homage to the Patron Saint of the Mikmaw.
The result of this conflict with dates was the formation of the Nova Scotia Indian Summer Games with hosts of the games being alternated between Nova Scotia communities year after year.
The following is a list of the Nova Scotia Indian Summer Games hosts in the past twenty (20) years and the funding amount that the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development contributed to the Games. While the funding certainly was workable in the early 1970's, the lack of a structured and organized events lead to most of our Games suffering financial losses that our communities ended up burdened with.
Although partnerships for many of these Summer Games were present with local or provincial governmental bodies, history basically outlines that the need for an organized Aboriginal Sports & Recreation organization was needed as far back as the first Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Summer Games. The reason for this was the simple reason that these Games brought together hundreds, if not over a thousand, of Nova Scotia's Mi'kmaw athletes, cultural performers, families and fans to these events.
Some communities opted on not hosting the Summer Games such as Bear River and Horton First Nations. After 1987, Waycobah First Nation took the initiative to host these Nova Scotia Indian Summer Games twice, once in 1989 and most recently in 1994. These games were modestly successful and did develop community sport and recreation facilities locally. They did experience difficulty in funding as they had to use all of their local and community support mechanisms to make this possible, making this a very difficult task to complete.
It is very important to note that these games brought much needed development in sporting / recreation facilities such as ballfields, track and fields, horseshoe pits and cultural grounds to host communities. It was a landmark developmental tool - but the problem was that these games did not have any infrastructure dollars and communities had to tap from within their areas for whatever they could obtain support from in a very short time period, one year at the most. The other problem was that there was no real accountability process put in place and tools such as technical packages and bidding criteria packages even in the milder sense just were not available or developed.
For this reason, most Summer Games were a success attendance and event wise, but organizationally, they were not. Also, most communities felt the burden of financial pitfalls after the games when they realized the budgets put in place were severely over drawn and now they had to deal with it. This made it very difficult for future communities to host these type of games. Granted, some Summer Games were a lot more successful than others, but some were not well attended, organized or planned.
From these games, we also cannot forget the enormous impact they had other than the financial woes. They brought together athletes, coaches, friends, families and other cultures to a place where they could celebrate their talents in sports, recreation and culture. The diversity even within our own culture is a celebration during large scale events such as this. Other cultures also come and enjoy the festivities and talents of our people. From these games, the pride in our culture and heritage was nurtured in our people, it was a very important time - a gathering and celebration of our nations.
It is a must that we continue to celebrate in the midst of our challenges as Mikmaw peoples living on ancestral lands - we need to continue in positive ways and setting examples that enrich the lives of our children now and in the future to come.
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