Nunavut Teams In Sask. For Training Camps Ahead Of Upcoming Arctic Winter Games | CBC News


Athletes from Nunavut are in Saskatchewan this week to train with university players and coaches in advance of next month’s Arctic Winter Games.

Basketball, volleyball teams get training from university programs

Darla Ponace · CBC News

· Posted: Feb 16, 2024 2:09 PM EST | Last Updated: 7 hours ago

Nunavut’s junior girls basketball team does drills led by the U of R women’s basketball team in advance of the Arctic Winter Games coming up in March. (Cory Herperger CBC)Athletes from Nunavut are in Saskatchewan this week to train with university players and coaches in advance of next month’s Arctic Winter Games.

The 2024 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) will run March 10 to 16 in Mat-Su, Alaska. Four Nunavut teams — two basketball and two volleyball — travelled south to Saskatchewan this week for their training camps.

The Nunavut teams feature players from around the territory, which makes training together logistically difficult. The trip is an opportunity for them to meet each other and train together.

The two basketball teams trained with players and coaches at the University of Regina, while the volleyball teams trained at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. All of them then had the opportunity to play exhibition games in Regina.

Players and coaches from Nunavut’s two volleyball teams for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games, the University of Regina Cougars U17 girls team and the boys team from the Regina Volleyball Club pose for a photo after playing some exhibition games in Regina. (Peter Scoular)Olivia Tapatai coaches Nunavut’s junior girls basketball team, which features players 19 and under. She said the camp has been helpful for team-building and developing skills.

“We have players from three different communities who came together to play together for the first time and trained together for the first time,” Tapatai said.

She said the training camp has helped motivate the girls and given them confidence on the court.

“Players for the female team come from a fairly small pool because we don’t have a lot of girls playing basketball. [We’re] trying to change that.”

WATCH | Nunavut girls travel to the Prairies to prep for Arctic Games:

Going the distance: Nunavut girls travel to the Prairies to prep for Arctic GamesTeam Nunavut’s girls basketball team came together for the first time in Regina, Sask., for training and exhibition games. The girls are prepping for the Artic Winter Games in March.

The U of R women’s basketball team working with the Nunavut squad. Tapatai said that mentoring was the highlight for her players.

“They’ve had the opportunity to see women play the sport that they play at a high level and receive training from women who are doing what they want to be doing, who are playing the way they want to play,” said Tapatai.  

“I’ve just been soaking it all in, and to watch a group that came from three communities play together and really work to break down barriers so that they could come together as Team Nunavut has been amazing.”

Meeting teammates for the first time

Haley Hachey is on the Nunavut junior girls basketball team. (Cory Herperger CBC)Haley Hachey, originally from Baker Lake, Nunavut, came to the training camp from Vancouver, where she is in university. 

Hachey said she was selected for the team after submitting a highlight video. She said the training camp was key for the players to gel.

“I was very excited to bond with them and see how they play, and finally get to meet together, because we’ve been waiting for this for weeks now.”

Hachey said she has learned a lot, from dribbling and other basketball drills, to life skills. 

“We’ve learned a lot more than just skills on the court,” she said. “We’ve learned about how to be good teammates, how to support each other, cheer when someone’s on the court. You have to be engaged on the bench.”

Most importantly, she said they learned how to be a team.

“I got to know the girls better,” Hachey said. “I could take that bond we made off the court and translate it onto the court as well.”

She said she’s excited to head to Alaska with the other girls.

“We’ve been preparing for this for months now, and I feel ready.”

Keira Tikhak-Kaomayok says the camp has been a great learning experience. (Cory Herperger CBC)Keira Tikhak-Kaomayok, from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, is another player on the junior girls team. She said the camp has been very beneficial.

She coaches a younger girls basketball team back in Nunavut. 

“I am going to take this training home and teach some of my friends and some of those little girls that I coach,” Tikhak-Kaomayok said.

She said her basketball skills have improved at the camp and that she especially enjoyed the exhibition games.

“It’s helping me learn more about the teammates and more about how they play, because I haven’t played with any of them as a team,” Tikhak-Kaomayok said. 

“It’s been great.” 

Team Nunavut junior girls team huddled together for a team cheer after practice. (Darla Ponace/ CBC News)ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darla Ponace is a Saulteaux woman from Zagime Anishinabek First Nations. She was selected to be a part of the Indigenous Pathways program at CBC. She recently graduated from the University of Regina/ First Nations University of Canada with a diploma in Indigenous Communications Arts. You can email her at with story ideas.

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