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Medals for the 2023 North American Indigenous Games inspired by Mi’kmaw petroglyph

Mi’kmaw image of star traveler was designed by Grade 9 student

2 min read
Gold, silver and bronze medals for the 2023 North American Games
caption Gold, silver and bronze medals designed by Ella Scothorn and Tayla Fern Paul were revealed at a media conference on Tuesday at Millbrook First Nation. This event marked the six-month countdown to the 2023 North American Indigenous Games in July. Photo: NAIG

Organizers unveiled a Mi’kmaw-inspired medal design for the 2023 North American Indigenous Games in Nova Scotia on Tuesday via livestream at Millbrook First Nation.

Tuesday’s event marked a six-month countdown for the Games, which are being held July 15-23, after a three-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are expected to draw thousands to the region.

A young artist in Grade 9 has been waiting to showcase the medals that she sketched in Grade 6.

“I’ve been doing art since before I could remember,” said artist Ella Scothorn, 14, in a phone interview on Tuesday. Scothorn, from Hardwood Lands, N.S., was inspired by an ancient Mi’kmaw petroglyph of a star traveler, which is the inspiration for eight-point stars in Mi’kmaw art.

“It makes me feel really proud and excited to see my designs come to life,” said Scothorn in a media release.

Prior to the pandemic, Scothorn was one of about 100 artists who answered a call for submissions. Her teacher gave her a blank template and encouraged her. Scothorn stood out and was selected.

Her winning design will grace nearly 3,000 gold, silver and bronze medals to be awarded to Games athletes.

“The determination for cultural excellence is the inspiration for the 2023 medal design,” stated Mi’kmaq artist Tayla Fern Paul in a media release. She was tapped by the Games to assist the younger artist by refining the design and getting it ready for production.

“There is tremendous potential for our youth, but they need the opportunity,” said George (Tex) Marshall, president of the 2023 NAIG Host Society, at the media conference. He said that it was important to have a youth design the medals, as it is youth who will be showcasing their athletic talents at the Games.

Marshall also spoke about his vision for the 2023 Games, which came to him in 1996 at the inaugural Aboriginal Sport Circle of Canada meeting at Tsuut’ina Nation near Calgary. Nearly 30 years later, his vision is coming to life here in Mi’kma’ki. The North American Indigenous Games originated at the 1971 Native Summer Games in Enoch, Alta.

The Games will attract over 750 Indigenous nations from across Canada and the United States, with athletes aged 13-19 competing in 16 different sports, including box lacrosse, 3D archery and canoe/kayak, which are traditional Indigenous sports.

Venues will be in Halifax, Dartmouth, and Millbrook First Nation. More than 3,000 volunteers are expected and roughly 5,250 athletes, coaches and officials will attend.

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Crystal Greene

Crystal Greene (she/her) is originally from Winnipeg, where she lived most of her life. She now lives in Kjipuktuk/Halifax with her toddler....

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