The Beaufort Delta contingent of athletes in the 2017 North American Indigenous Games got Team NWT off to a hot start.
The canoe racers, many of whom came from the region, brought home eight of the team’s 28 medals in the first days of the competition.
“We’re super happy with the performance that everyone had,” said coach Shona Barbour.
Kyra McDonald led off Team NWT with a silver in the 14U race. Shortly thereafter, Davina McLeod and Kaidan McDonald teamed up for the territory’s first gold in the 19U tandem competition.
“That was quite a standout performance,” said Barbour. “They won that race by quite a bit. It was one of the fastest canoe races I had seen in a long time.”
She gives a lot of respect to McLeod, who took home four medals herself.
“It’s a tough competition,” said Barbour. “To be able to go out there and race six races in the heat and conditions, it takes a pretty good athlete.”
Darius Andre also teamed with McDonald for a bronze in the 19U male competition.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said in the Inuvik airport after returning home from the event. “The team was very positive for each other. Lots of laughs, had a lot of fun on the lake.”
He also competed in NAIG in 2014.
“Last time there were only two of us who got medals,” said Andre. “This time there were six of us. Everybody competed and everybody had fun.”
Assistant coach Tim Gordon said his philosophy toward the games is emphasizing to youth that they need to take on anything in life with intent.
“Nothing comes easy, so if you want to compete in anything you do, you have to give 100 per cent,” he said. “There are no shortcuts. There’s no losing when you go out and do your best.”
Barbour said the strong canoe performance carries on the tradition of canoeing in the territory.
“The kids do it now as a sport, but at one time or another their parents or their grandparents all did it as a traditional activity,” she said. “It’s neat they get to come here and do a sport that has such a history and meaning to their families and the region they come from.”
She said the athletes represented the NWT with sportsmanship and respect.
“I think the pride they have being NWT athletes and athletes from the Delta is so high right now,” she said.
Beyond canoeing, Inuvik athletes Jackson Christie and Braeden Picek both picked up medals in the athletics events, while Marshall Brown took home three medals in swimming.