Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
About 150 Métis youth are participating at this year’s Alberta Indigenous Games with minimal expenses.
That’s because the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) is sponsoring seven clubs that are competing at the Games, which began on Aug. 9 and continue until Aug. 19 in Edmonton.
The MNA covered the registration costs for seven Métis clubs. All of the teams are called the Métis Nation of Alberta Voyageurs.
For starters, there are two squads for boys’ Under-13 and one for boys’ Under-15 baseball. There are also two junior golf teams, featuring players born between 2008 and 2010.
Also taking part will be an MNA junior boys’ basketball entry for players born between 2008 and 2010, and an intermediate boys’ lacrosse side, featuring players born in 2007 and 2008.
The registration fee for baseball, basketball and lacrosse clubs was $750 per team. And golf squads paid a $550 entry fee.
The MNA is also covering about $17,000 in hotel expenses for the athletes on its seven sponsored teams.
All of the Métis athletes were given $100 gift cards to be used towards food, family gas expenses or in any way they choose.
The MNA also paid for the flights for four British Columbia athletes that are suiting up for the MNA lacrosse squad.
Despite its moniker, the Games are not restricted to just athletes from Alberta. It is believed that athletes from all four western Canadian provinces, as well as the Northwest Territories, are competing in the Games.
Shayne Courtorielle, a consultant for the MNA who is also coaching one of the Under-13 baseball clubs at the Games, believes many athletes would not have been able to afford to compete had it not been for the sponsorships.
“I think a lot of the kids (and their families) wouldn’t be able to afford the hotels for the duration of the tournament,” he said. “Some of them are travelling from northern Alberta. That’s four-, five-hours. We also have athletes from throughout southern Alberta too.”
This marks the second straight year that the MNA has sponsored various teams at the multi-sports Games.
About 4,800 athletes are participating in the Games this year. They are competing in 17 sports.
Various cultural events are being held throughout the event.
An opening ceremony was also staged and there will also be a closing awards celebration.
Courtorielle said the MNA is keen to financially assist some teams in order to give young athletes the opportunity to take part in the Games.
“They do it for the youth,” he said. “It’s all for the youth, to give kids a chance to learn about their culture and to make new friends.”
Courtorielle said he is not overly concerned about the record that his baseball club will register at the Games.
“It’s more the experience than winning,” he said. “Winning is nice. But at the end all that matters is that they have fun.”
Courorielle’s roster includes his two sons, Chayse, who is 13, and 11-year-old Camryn Courtorielle.
Both are playing various positions with the squad.
Chayse is a pitcher, catcher, shortstop and second baseman. Camryn is a pitcher, catcher and first baseman.
The Courtorielles live in Morinville, about 40 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
“Meeting new friends and getting to enjoy all the fun cultural activities are the most exciting parts of the Games,” said Chayse Courtorielle. “I’m happy to have the opportunity to play the sport I love and improve my skills, while learning more about my culture. The memories and friendships we make on the field last a lifetime.”
The Games were first held in 2011. About 300 athletes took part in that inaugural event.
Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.