Some of the traditional games played by indigenous groups across Canada were used to sharpen skills for hunting and fishing.
The “finger pull” – where two opponents lock middle fingers and pull until one gives up – for instance, strengthened fingers for fishing in the Canadian Arctic.
This week, Grade 8 students at Garibaldi Secondary played this and several other contests during an Indigenous Games event organized by the school’s Link Crew leadership team.
The well-attended event gave students the chance to interactively learn more about indigenous history and culture through a series of games that are significant to indigenous groups across Canada, including the Blackfoot, Cree, Dene, Inuit and Salish.
While some traditional indigenous games were played to enhance hunting and fishing prowess, others were performed at community gatherings to acknowledge the passing of community leaders (including the “pole push”, pictured below) and others were played merely to pass the time on long winter nights, explained Jaclyn Gibbs, leadership teacher at Garibaldi.
“So many of the sports we play today were created in indigenous communities. Some of which include: lacrosse, hockey and even kite surfing and snowboarding,” Gibbs added.
Garibaldi’s Link Crew made many of the implements used for the games, while Ms. Elke’s First Peoples class created the sewn-leather sling balls.
“We have collaborated with Aboriginal Support Workers from around the district to help teach the leaders the history of Indigenous games with the hope of students learning and enjoying in this new cultural experience,” said Gibbs.
“With help from the district Ab Ed department and specific oversight by Jessica Knott, we learned about the long history of indigenous people in Canada and the importance of acknowledging their role in Canadian history.”