The North American Indigenous Games wrapped up on Sunday after eight days of competition, with First Nations athletes competing in dozens of sports.
The Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Association of B.C. sent a contingent of 417 athletes, 83 coaches and managers and 14 mission staff to the Games, which took place in Denver, Colorado. Its estimated that over 7,000 athletes and 31 delegations from across Canada and the U.S. took part.
Despite the healthy competition, the B.C. team won 54 gold medals, 26 silver medals and 22 bronze for a total of 102 medals more than three times as many as the last games in 2002. Half of all B.C. athletes came home with medals, and half of those athletes won gold.
B.C. was strongest in the swimming events, where eight athletes won more than 50 medals. Stephanie Omeasco of Chilliwack and Carlene Creyke of Smithers earned nine medals each.
The paddlers were also strong, with 12 athletes earning 20 medals for the province.
All six B.C. soccer teams wound up on the podium, with the six teams winning five gold medals and a silver.
The Lilwat Nations contribution to the B.C. team was 10 soccer players, many of whom came home with medals, and a volleyball player.
On the boys side, the soccer players were Shawn Patrick, Kelly Dan, Johnson Narcisse, Kyle Smith and Dennis Andrew. On the girls side were Angel Saul, Haley Joe, Randi Joe, Reinal Wallace, and Valarie Peters. The volleyball player was Katrina Wallace.
The 2008 North American Indigenous Games are set for Vancouver Island. B.C. is hoping to have all 197 First Nations communities in the province represented.