A large group of Treaty #3 youth athletes recently returned home after a very successful trip to Ottawa.
Tania Cameron and her group of 60 youth athletes and 8 coaches returned home from the recent Ontario Summer Indigenous Games in Ottawa last week. Four volleyball teams and three basketball teams all came home with some hardware.
Approximately six weeks ago, indigenous youth from as far away as Thunder Bay and Fort Frances came to try out for a spot on one of Cameron’s teams. The Team Manager said her original plan only included 45 youth but after seeing the excitement, she decided to expand that number.
To get to Ottawa, the youth fundraised and looked for sponsorships to cover the costs of their food, transportation and accommodation. Cameron took it upon herself to help with the fundraising by organizing efforts such as draws and a very successful GoFundMe.
“I had a GoFundMe, I had a draw and I had people donating items for the draw. It was truly a community effort to send 60 kids to Ottawa,” said Cameron.
“The fundraising goal was $53,000 to send 60 kids and that included the bus that we had to rent, a couple of hotel night stays, and just to help the kids experience an amazing trip. I booked the last day in Toronto to spend a day at Canada’s Wonderland. The kids were just so happy.”
In the end, Cameron was able to fundraise all of the money necessary for the trip!
Cameron noted that from the fundraising efforts, she was able to pay for the flights and accommodation for the volunteer coaches. She said that she opted to send them by plane so that she could fit as many kids as possible on the bus.
During their time at the Games, the kids cleaned up on the courts.
“I had junior and senior volleyball teams, as well, I had two boys basketballs teams and a girls team. It was just so exciting to watch and cheer, I spent literally 9:00 am to 9:00 pm trying to watch as many games as possible.”
“It was just so exciting that every team I took came home with a medal!”
Cameron’s teams returned home with nine medals altogether, including four gold and a silver in volleyball.
"Playing sports with so many other Indigenous youth is incredible," said player Kendaaz White.
"Being able to bring Indigenous youth out of their isolated communities for a few days to enjoy something is something I'm so proud to be a part of," he added, before thanking the University of Ottawa, local sponsors, his fellow athletes and to the many coaches, volunteers and families who supported them.
Overall, Cameron said it was an “amazing experience” for the group of kids.