CANADA Meet the 3 Treaty Titans who dominated the volleyball...

Meet the 3 Treaty Titans who dominated the volleyball courts at the Ontario Indigenous Summer Games.

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The Titans of Treaty 3 are made up of Indigenous athletes from across northwestern Ontario. Despite fundraising difficulties, they made it to the Ontario First Nations Summer Games and dominated. (Presented by Tanya Cameron)

When Tanya Cameron left Kenora, Ontario with a busload of athletes for the Ontario Native Summer Games in Ottawa, she wasn’t sure she could afford a weekend hotel stay.

Her eight-week fundraising campaign was $6,500 short of her $53,000 goal to support seven teams of volleyball and basketball players aged 15 to 18 from across northwestern Ontario to compete at the provincial level.

Despite this uncertainty, the Contract Titans 3 volleyball and basketball teams traveled to Ottawa.

And they didn’t just get to the games, they dominated.

They came back with nine medals, including four golds and one silver in volleyball, prompting Sport & Wellness Ontario Sports & Athlete Development Manager Gary Lynch to say he is “thoroughly impressed” with the talent emerging from the Northwest.

“I just think the kids were very interested in the game,” says Cameron. “It was a long two years without sports.

“For seven teams and for the fact that each team came home with a medal, I am simply blown away. I don’t know how we did it, but we did it. every time I heard that we won medals, I just started crying.”

The men's volleyball team is photographed standing together.  They hold their gold medals in their hands.

The Contract 3 U19 volleyball team poses with their gold medals from the Ontario First Nations Summer Games. (Presented by Tanya Cameron)

Budget uncertainties meant that Coach Cameron had to limit Treaty 3 teams to volleyball and basketball, despite requests from football and baseball players, swimmers, wrestlers, and others. She could fill two buses, but even though she managed to connect with First Nations, tribal councils, youth foundations and corporate sponsors, she could hardly fund one.

Cameron posted a request for donations on social media from the road. The sports programs that Cameron has been leading since 2015 have attracted the attention of the whole country and supported her in difficult times. There were even parents who watched the games, handing her money on the court.

Despite all this, she paid for the trip on time.

“These are people who just gave, right across the board, gave, gave, gave,” Cameron said.

“I was just about to start a small team under Treaty 3. But when the tryouts started, my gym was packed with guys from Thunder Bay, Pickle Lake, Mishkigogamang, coming from the flying communities, Fort Francis,” she said, “I like : “Why didn’t you guys just start your team from Thunder Bay?” [They said] “No, we want to play on your teams.”

  • WATCH | Check out the best moments of athletes’ performances at the games

Ontario First Nations Summer Games

5 days ago

Duration 5:34

In #OSIG2022, hundreds of Indigenous children aged 13 to 18 from across Ontario compete in nine sports. After two years of lockdown, this is a chance to bring out talent for the 2023 North American Indigenous Games in Halifax.

Eighteen-year-old power forward Kaylan Whitehead of Webequie First Nation played every second in every game for 20 straight sets without a loss. He then helped lead the men’s under-19 team to a further championship in the all-men’s one-game knockout tournament.

“They were just warming up, like in the first game, before the last one, because it didn’t get easier all the time, it just got a little harder,” Whitehead said of the competition. “It was difficult at times, but we managed anyway.”

The real surprise for Whitehead was that a Durham College volleyball recruiter took him aside and asked him to visit the Oshawa campus to see if he was ready to take his game to the next level.

“I did not expect to be bred during this tournament. I just suddenly spoke to me and then was shocked the moment I realized my dreams were coming true,” Whitehead said.

A group of young athletes play volleyball, two athletes go to the net.

The Contract 3 Titans men’s and women’s volleyball team won four gold medals at the tournament ahead of the competition. (Presented by Tanya Cameron)

Eighteen-year-old Arianna Wigwas from Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (Gull Bay First Nation) considers basketball her main sport, but in March she traveled from Thunder Bay to Kenora for a volleyball tryout and made the team.

Its women’s under-19 team won two of the three games in the round-robin before losing in the final to a team from London. But she sees the silver medal as a symbol of success for winning in one set against a much stronger opponent.

“We knew we had to get really competitive and play strong right away, which we did. it was very exciting,” Vigvas says.

“We see a lot of very talented and gifted athletes from all over Ontario. And it was especially great to see how the northern athletes come out and perform these amazing, incredible movements.”

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