While the Olympics rage on in Japan, folks in Alberta will have the pleasure of watching the best of the best from the province’s Indigenous community as they compete against each other in a variety of different sports.
The 2021 Alberta Indigenous Summer Games are set to take place from Aug. 12 to 19 at Edmonton's Rundle Park.
Among those athletes will be two St. Albert fastball players. Devynn Power, 11, and Natalia Martel, 12, are gearing up for the big event. Power will be repping the Edmonton team in the U12 competition, while Martel will swap her Angels jersey for an Alexis First Nation one as she competes with the U16s.
They look forward to not only representing their Indigenous roots, but the St. Albert community as a whole.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play for this team,” said Martel. “I’m just finally glad that I’m able to do it no matter what and I’m just really excited.”
“I’m very excited to be one of the only people representing St. Albert,” said Power. “I think it is really cool that there are only two of us.”
Both Power and Martel are proud of their Indigenous heritage. Martel is First Nations Treaty with the Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan while Power is Metis with strong roots that connect to the Cardinals and Desjarlais lineage of Lac La Biche, Cypress Hills, St. Paul, and Saskatchewan.
They are beyond excited to have a chance to really dig into their identity and show how much it means to them to belong to such a strong Indigenous community.
“I’m very proud to be Indigenous,” said Martel. “I love to learn more about my culture and I love to play for the people that I love, so it is a big part of me ... I love who I am and where I come from.”
“I think I feel a lot of connection with my spirit being indigenous,” said Power, whose spirit name is Starlight Woman.
They were also aware of how the Indigenous Games impact their culture. Power said this type of event brings the Indigenous community together with people who might not have had the chance to meet otherwise.
“I think that it’s great to have an Indigenous Games, because a lot of Indigenous people don’t get to play exactly on the team they may have wanted,” said Power. “Now, with the Indigenous Games, they get to play with people they've never played with before and connect and learn new things about the Indigenous culture."
Martel is an eight-year veteran of the sport. She first got into fastball after being inspired by her stepfather. Power has been playing for a little less time, as she is currently in her fourth season. Her path started in baseball but, after seeing friends jump to fastball, she switched over and fell in love with the game.
The games are set to start with an opening ceremony Aug. 12 at Rundle Park. The fastball competition will run Aug. 13-15 at both the Goldstick Park and Rundle Park ball diamonds. Visit www.albertaindigenousgames.ca for more information.