The Gameti Hand Game Committee announced this week that the community’s 2021 hand game tournament is cancelled.
The event, which was set to take place in March, would have been the fourth edition of games, which are held every second year. Gameti Chief David Wedawin said since their launch in 2015, they have been steadily gaining popularity.
The decision to cancel the games is a result of continued Covid-19 protection measures. In a 300-person community “if one citizen gets sick, we’ll all be sick,” Wedawin said.
Boris Eyakfwo has been a member of the Gameti Hand Game Committee since their inception in 2015. Cancelling the tournament “was a difficult decision,” he said, “but we didn’t want to put the Elders at risk.”
In the past, Gameti has hosted up to 32 teams and up to 700 people for the tournament. Teams from around the NWT as well as from Yukon and Alberta have travelled to Gameti to compete.
Wedawin describes the community “filling up” for the games. Maintaining proper social distancing measures would not be possible while hosting the tournament he said.
While the cancellation is a disappointment, Eyakfwo said the community “has been very understanding.”
He said the date that the games will be rescheduled to is still up for discussion. He acknowledged that many are eager to see the tournament set for as soon as possible, but he noted “it would take some time” until Covid-19 restrictions ease.
Eyakfwo himself is as keen to set a date as anyone and said the traditional games “are important for the community.”
“I love the experience,” he said. “It brings so much energy to me and makes me proud to be Indigenous. It’s a very amazing feeling.”