Dene games growing in popularity in South Slave

Click on the slideshow above to view captions.Photos: Maria Church.

Youth interest in playing traditional Dene games is growing in the South Slave, according to the organizer of the Arctic Winter Games (AWG) Dene games trials held in Fort Smith for the first time last week.

Around 45 youth from across the territory traveled to Fort Smith for the trials that were held over three days at the community recreation centre.

Competitive events were separated into age and gender categories and included the snow snake, the stick pull and the hand pull. Each event was ranked in a points system and the competitors in each category with the highest number of points made the cut for the AWG.

Daniels said the team chosen at the trials will be strong competition at the games, which are coming up this March in Fairbanks, Alaska.

“Especially our junior male and junior female groups look pretty strong,” he said.

While competition over the weekend was fierce, Daniels said the Dene games are also a social and cultural activity for NWT youth.

Years ago, there was danger of the games being lost to youth, especially in the South Slave, he said. The NWT department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) has since been actively encouraging communities in the South Slave to teach Dene youth the history of the games and why it’s important to their culture.

“It keeps our youth – especially Dene youth, although it’s nice to have all cultures – in touch with the whole cultural aspect of the North,” he said.

“Our Dene ancestors created these games not for competition at first. All these games were created for making a living off the land, for hunting and harvesting situations.”

With such a successful AWG trails under its belt, Daniels said he’s pushing for Fort Smith to be chosen again for the 2016 AWG Dene games trials.

Team NWT for Dene Games

Open Male:
· Sidney Tutcho, Deline

· Merrance Cardinal, Aklavik

· Mitchell Neadzo, Deline

· Preston Dosedel, Inuvik

· Alternates: Kenny Kenny, Deline & Alexander Robichaud-Voght, Fort Smith


Junior Male:
· Ryan Tourangeau, Fort Smith

· Dalton Beamish, Fort Smith

· Randy Betsidea, Deline

· Kyle Meyook, Aklavik

· Alternates: Kenny Kenny, Deline & Alexander Robichaud-Voght, Fort Smith


Junior Female:
· Stephanie Charlie, Aklavik

· Zhalaani Drygeese-Yelle, Yellowknife

· Delilah Turner, Yellowknife

· Courtney Charlie, Aklavik

· Alternate: Renee Ekenedia, Behchoko


Juvenile Female:
· Holly Archie, Aklavik

· Cassandra Paul, Aklavik

· Dannika Peterson, Fort McPherson

· Cassandra Francis, Fort McPherson

· Alternate: Kayleigh-Shea Hunter-McKay, Fort Resolution

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