Communities Connect with Virtual Stick Game Tournament


​​​​​​Use your imagination and play virtual games with your friends and family!

Several First Nations in BC recently enjoyed a virtual three-day tournament of traditional Indigenous stick games organized by the Savage Society and the Arts Council of New Westminster​. The online event was intended to help cultivate community connections during this time of physical distancing, and to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. About 13 people played,​ and over 50 people joined to watch, including the players’ families and community members. Many people have shown interest in participating in future even​ts. 

Kelsey Wavey of Tataskweyak Cree Nation co-hosted the event with Darylina Powderface of the Stoney-Nakota Nation and Blackfoot. Three teams participated, which included children and youth,  Elders and Knowledge Keepers. 

“Even though we are apart and need to be maintaining that physical space, it is so important to take time to gather virtually, and celebrate when we can,” says Kelsey.  

Starting off in a good wa​​y with an opening song and game rules 

Co-hosts Kelsey and Darylina kicked off the tournament with a video of the group M’Girl Music singing the Gathering Song of the Anishinaabe (a song gifted to the group to share and honour the ancestors).

After the opening song, the group shared a set of rules for the stick games. (If you would like to obtain a copy of this video for educational purposes, contact the Savage Society, the Arts Council of New Westminster.)  

Using new technology to play traditional stick games 

Participants in the tournament played the stick games through the Zoom online platform; some also sang and drummed from the comfort and safety of their own homes. 

The teams began with equal amount of sticks and a set of “bones,” which are either marked with a stripe or unmarked. Alternating back and forth, one team would sing and drum, while a team-member switched the “bones” from hand to hand. The other team then guessed which hand held the unmarked “bone.”  For each incorrect guess, that team lost a stick to the other team. Honesty and respect are two values associated with playing the game. The event offered a fun way for family and friends to share and come together. 

“Indigenous people have very fun traditional games that adapt and change and grow!” shares Ashley Cook. 

Prizes included a blanket giveaway and other items from local Indigenous artisans, as well as a chance to win cash prizes.  

Congratulations to the winners! And thank you to the organizers, teachers, singers, drummers, and participants. 

This event was supported by an FNHA Indigenous Peoples Day of Wellness grant. ​

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