For Rochester Knighthawks Cody Jamieson and Craig Point, lacrosse is a way of life. As professional lacrosse players, they eat, sleep and breathe the sport, and train endlessly to improve. But for the two Mohawks from Six Nations, lacrosse isn’t just a game; it is deeply-seated in their backgrounds. In an effort to help not only grow the game of lacrosse among First Nations youth, but to help re-engage First Nations children with the culture of their people, both Jamieson and Point handed out free lacrosse sticks to kids at the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre in Hamilton, Ontario on Tuesday. A dozen sticks, donated by Team 22 and Under Armour, were given to children ages 5 to 13 as part of the “Walk With Us” program’s first lacrosse stick giveaway.
“I always had the stick in my hand growing up, it was a part of me, there was a bond,” Jamieson told the Hamilton Spectator. “I learned that anything I wanted to do, I could do.”
“We wanted to give them a lacrosse stick and show them what the game is all about, how fast it is and how active you can be,” Point told the Two Row Times.
“Walk With Us” was launched by Arrow Express Sports, the Six Nations company that owns and operates the Knighthawks, with the goal of putting a stick in the hands of every First Nations child in Canada.
According to Nick Rothwell, who organized the event, the program isn’t simply aimed at turning these children into better lacrosse players, but for them to learn more about the rich history and tradition of their ancestors, and to feel pride in their background, whether it’s through lacrosse or other First Nations culture.
The program’s website states, “‘Walk With Us’ is a multi-platform social project designed to re-ignite lacrosse in the psyche of First Nations’ children, primarily between the ages of four to 18. By getting children involved with lacrosse, ‘Walk with Us’ will help to promote First Nations’ cultural identity in language, music, art and history, thus instilling them with a sense of pride and belonging.”
In addition to handing out the sticks, Jamieson and Point talked to the children about the history of “The Creator’s Game.” The sport was a gift from The Creator, and it is a medicine game that provides the powers of healing. The game was first played by indigenous people in upstate New York and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
“We were the first people to play it; The Creator gave it to us. We play it to make Him happy,” Jamieson told the Hamilton Spectator.
After receiving a free clinic from the two back-to-back National Lacrosse League champions, the children went home with a smile on their face, and a stick in their hands. For some, the stick they received is the first they’ve owned. And now they have two idols they can aspire to play like.
In the first week of December, “Walk With Us” once again hand out free lacrosse sticks to children, this time at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Hagersville, Ontario. In 2014, the program hopes to expand across the entire country and hand out sticks to as many children as possible.
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