Tony Cote: Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games Showcases Athletes

Dignitaries including Tony Cote at the opening ceremonies of the inaugural Saskatchewan Indian Summer Games. Later the games would be renamed the Saskatchewan First Nation Summer Games. COURTESY: Tony Cote

By MELANIE MCKAY

Dignitaries including Tony Cote at the opening ceremonies of the inaugural Saskatchewan Indian Summer Games.  Later the games would be renamed the Saskatchewan First Nation Summer Games. COURTESY: Tony Cote

Dignitaries including Tony Cote at the opening ceremonies of the inaugural Saskatchewan Indian Summer Games. Later the games would be renamed the Saskatchewan First Nation Summer Games. COURTESY: Tony Cote

When Chief Tony Cote founded the Saskatchewan First Nation Summer Games in 1974 he hoped one of their athletes would someday compete at the Olympics.

Over the years, the Summer Games have evolved, increasing the number of athletes, reserve facilities, resources, and volunteers.

The Summer Games have been instrumental in providing training and experience for athletes to go further, competing in the North American Indigenous Games, Saskatchewan Summer Games and the Olympics.

Approximately five hundred athletes participated in the first Summer Games. Marvin C. Sanderson, Games Coordinator of this year’s 2013 First Nations Summer Games, hosted by Muskoday First Nation, estimates that 3,500 athletes will be competing.

Sanderson says, “The Summer Games is a grassroots development for our First Nations youth to continue their goals in sports.”

Since 2001, the Summer Games have been held every second year.

Tony Cote presents the most Improved Tribal Council with the Tony Cote Award.  He says, “I always tell them, you’ve got to be a good sport.”

“We see the Summer Games as a stepping stone for kids to see what’s out there in the life of sport and what they can achieve and where they can go,” Sanderson says.

Cote says, “Someday, it probably won’t be in my time, but I would like to see more Aboriginal and First Nations people even compete in the Olympics. That was my goal to start off with.”

Tony is the recipient of the Tom Longboat in 1974, for outstanding sportsman, The Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2008, indicted into the SK Sports Hall of Fame in 2011, and received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in April 2013.

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