The 2023 edition of the North American Indigenous Games is now underway in Halifax. Both Manitoba and Saskatchewan have plenty of northern athletes taking part, including several from Flin Flon and nearby communities.
For Team Manitoba, at least three athletes have local ties, including a pair of players for the province’s boys’ soccer team. Antonio Constant and Cheechoo Lathlin are both playing for the team this summer. Both players are originally from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, but moved to Flin Flon for sports recently - Lathlin is a member of the Flin Flon Bombers, while Constant played hockey last season for the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) Selects and was part of Hapnot Collegiate’s soccer team.
Hanna Lytwyn is also taking part for Team Manitoba. The Hapnot Collegiate student and Flin Flon-based athlete is playing for Manitoba’s girls’ volleyball team. The Grade 12 student was part of Hapnot’s provincial silver-medal-winning senior varsity Kweens volleyball team last fall.
Team Saskatchewan is rich with northern representation, especially on the water. A large chunk of Team Saskatchewan’s canoe and kayak teams consist of athletes from Pelican Narrows or Deschambault Lake. In all, 14 athletes from the communities have headed to Halifax to be part of the games, with seven athletes in each gender’s events.
Each athlete is taking part in a series of boys’, girls’ and intergender events on the water. Ten of the group are from Pelican Narrows, including male athletes Shayden Custer, Shiloh Custer, Klayton Linklater, Nicolas Linklater and Embry Roberts and female athletes Shaylisa Ballantyne, Cerise Charles, Jaylynn Custer, Tay-lee Custer and Ronisha McKay. Ava and Avery Sewap and Rustin and Serge Custer from Deschambault Lake are also representing the north in the canoe/kayak events.
Other athletes from the region are taking part in different events, including Kasey Isiah Custer from Pelican Narrows, who is part of the Team Saskatchewan volleyball program. Carson Favel, originally from Ile-a-la-Crosse, is taking part in the boys’ athletics events - Favel lived in the Flin Flon/Creighton area last year while playing hockey for the PBCN Selects.
Some of the events were held July 17. The Saskatchewan group saw positive results in the canoe/kayak races. In the mixed 3,000-metre under-19 race, Ballantyne and Roberts combined to finish fourth, less than a minute away from a bronze medal. Klayton Linklater finished seventh in the boys’ 3,000-metre under-19 race - Serge Custer finished ninth, while Shayden Custer did not finish.
McKay and both Ava and Avery Sewap were slated to take part in the 3,000-metre under-16 race - McKay was listed as a “did not start”, while both Sewaps were listed as “did not finish” on the official NAIG website.
Lytywn’s Team Manitoba under-19 girls’ volleyball team took Alberta to three sets but lost 25-19, 22-25, 10-15 in their first game, then beat B.C. 25-16, 15-20. Kasey Custer’s Saskatchewan team earned a win in their opening game against New Brunswick, winning 25-13, 25-18.
Constant and Lathlin will hit the field for their first games July 18 and 19, while Favel’s athletics events will take place later this week.