The Seabird Island First Nations Festival held last weekend was once again a big success offering youth, young adults, and adults alike an opportunity to showcase their culture and history through Soccer, Ball-Hockey, War Canoe races and Sla:hal. This three-day celebration held the last weekend of May demonstrates First Nations heritage through friendly competition in sport and traditional games.
One of the festival favourites is “slahal” is an ancient game, dating to before the last ice age. In the Coast Salish tradition, the Creator gave “stickgame” to humanity as an alternative to war at the beginning of time. Thus the game straddles multiple roles in Native culture — it is at once entertainment, a family pastime, a sacred ritual and a means of economic gain (through gambling). In addition to the games there are displays of artisans.
Long before colonization of Canada, First Nations people from across Canada and North America held games. In fact a number of modern games like lacrosse were derived from traditional First Nations games. These games taught First Nations children many qualities that would help them through their journey into adulthood, such as: honesty, courage, respect, and gratitude.