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Aboriginal communities part of Olympic 2010 torch relay
The Olympic 2010 flame arrived at a Saskatoon celebration on January 11 in the hands of an Aboriginal athlete, fire burning strong on its slim white torch as
it was brought to briefly rest atop a cauldron-pedestal.
Métis athlete, Jacqueline Lavallee, carried the flame to the Saskatoon stage amidst the cheers of a crowd. Pride was evident on her face as she transferred the flame from the torch to the cauldron and wiped away a tear. It was a proud moment obviously for her, as it was for the people watching.
"Our community is amazing with all
the support," Lavallee said afterward as she stood on stage. "And it brings
together people from all different walks of life. And when you bring everyone together like this and you see community that's the way it should be every single day," she added.
While attending the University of Saskatchewan, Lavallee played on the Huskies basketball team while also playing soccer. She competed in basketball internationally for Canada and in a German professional league. In 2008, she was inducted into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame and that same year received the National Aboriginal Coaching Award.
These days, she works as a teacher at Oskayak High School in Saskatoon with Aboriginal students. She said it is one of the most amazing places to be and wants to use her experience to encourage students.
"That's what I'm going to challenge
myself to do everyday is for the kids to shine and believe in themselves," she
said. "And to light that flame in themselves."
Although the day looked to be warm, it quickly got cold for those at the celebrations, nevertheless, many people stayed to watch the outdoor performances. Obvious at the Saskatoon event was the amount of Aboriginal participants including that of Métis youth
representative and local fiddle player, Dallas Fiddler-Boyer, who gave a speech
mentioning that Chief Whitecap would have been proud to see the events of the
day on what was previously First Nations land.
Performers from Buffalo Boy Productions danced slowly onto the stage, one dancer blowing on a loud whistle, as if to add the spiritual reverence of First Nations culture to the Olympic event.
International Métis singing sensation, Andrea Menard, gave a highly moving performance of her song 'Peace', which was followed by youth performer,
Krystal Peterson, who sang and then joined local Métis jigger Scott Duffy on
stage for a jig. There was an array of performers not only from the Aboriginal
cultures, but of others, including those of Chinese and Ukrainian descent.
Afterward, the flame was transferred from the cauldron to a torch and taken by a string of torchbearers to Wanuskewin Heritage Park, where Aboriginal performers and speakers gathered to celebrate the Olympic torch's
presence in Saskatoon.
FSIN Chief Morley Watson spoke at the Wanuskewin event, encouraging youth to strive for big goals, such as to compete as an athlete at the Olympics.
"We realize that we have issues with gangs," Watson said. "We have issues with things that are associated with poverty." But despite this phenomenon, he added, First Nations make sure to commend their youth and encourage them to do the best they can to live healthy lifestyles.
Great involvement of the Aboriginal community was also apparent at other Olympic 2010 torch relay celebrations held later in the day at Prince Albert and North
Battleford. Around 12,000 torchbearers altogether were chosen to carry the flame
45,000 kilometres across Canada, as it makes stops in 200 communities.
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