Jayvin, Kinley and Jarrett Cross Child at the 2023 NAIG in Halifax.

Team Sask. tops NAIG standings

The 2023 North American Indigenous Games wrapped up in Halifax over the weekend with Team Saskatchewan sitting on top of the standings with 175 medals.

It is the seventh time the team has taken the overall title since the Games started in 1993.

NAIG, which is held every four years, brings together people from 756 Indigenous nations to celebrate, share, connect and compete across a wide range of team and individual sports in the under-14, -16 and -19 age groups.

This year, Saskatchewan was represented by 500 athletes, coaches and managers, including many from Saskatoon. Among those on the athletics team were brothers Jarrett, Jayvin and Kinley Cross Child — aged 14, 18 and 19 — who each competed in several events in the U16 and U19 divisions.

Because the 2020 NAIG was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first NAIG for all three boys.

Team Saskatchewan celebrates after winning the U19 4x400m relay.
Team Saskatchewan celebrates after winning the U19 4x400m relay.

“It was awesome seeing people from all over Canada, and even the United States, come together this way to get to know one another,” Kinley says.

Both Jayvin and Kinley came home with a handful of hardware, including a shared gold in the U19 4x400m relay which was a particular highlight. “It was so much fun,” Jayvin said. “I’ve done a few (relays) before, but that was the most competitive one I’ve ever been in.” The team beat runner up Newfoundland and Labrador by less than four seconds

While repeatedly getting up on the podium was pretty awesome, the brothers say the true highlight of the Games was the opportunity to meet other athletes. “We’re very competitive, but when we’re off the track we’re all congratulating each other and everyone’s really nice to each other and we can be really good friends,” Jayvin says. “There was really good sportsmanship.”

The event was also a powerful celebration of Indigenous culture and success. The sold-out opening ceremonies showcased the host Nation of Mi’kma’ki and a cultural village on site featured concerts and artwork by Indigenous artists throughout the competition. “I’d never really seen that much cultural representation before,” Jayvin said. “It’s great to show off the talents of Indigenous athletes and how talented they are.”

NAIG announced last week that Calgary won the bid to host the 2027 Games and Jarrett, who will be 18 by then, says he plans to be back.

“It was cool to be a part of this, racing all these different people, meeting all these different people who represent all Indigenous people around North America coming together to move forward,” he says. “I will train more for the next three, four years so that I’m able to go back to NAIG and hopefully win some medals.”