Lacrosse added to 2021 Summer Games
Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport for the Government of Canada, announces Thursday that $1.7 million will be spent to add lacrosse to the 2021 Canada Summer Games, BPSN Photo.
The 2021 Canada Games Chair Doug Hamilton was beaming with pride Thursday as it was announced lacrosse has been added to the Games which will take place in Niagara.
Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport for the Government of Canada, made the announcement that $1.7 million will be spent to add lacrosse to the Games. The announcement was made at the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum at Lock 3.
The competition will be box lacrosse format, and will feature both male and female teams.
“We are elated that Canada’s national summer sport has been included in the 2021 Canada Games. Niagara has long been a centre for lacrosse and we look forward to celebrating this with our Indigenous community,” Hamilton said. “The lacrosse facilities planned at our proposed Canada Games Park will help ensure that we provide a critical and lasting legacy for lacrosse.”
Hamilton feels adding lacrosse is a natural considering the rich history of the sport in the region.
“This is important for us, for Niagara. It helps us to Niagara-ize the Canada Games, to make them more ours in the Indigenous community in Niagara and help the games reflect our unique heritage.
“It is the Canada Games but our Indigenous relationships and Indigenous community connections are critical to us. To recognize our tradition of sport in Niagara was important to us. Lacrosse obviously has a connection to Niagara and the Indigenous community so from the start we started to work with the Six Nations and the Canadian Lacrosse Association in our games.”
CLA president Joey Harris played in the 1977 Games.
“I know how important this experience will be for our male and female box lacrosse players. These games will provide our lacrosse players an experience similar to the Olympic Games.”
Harris is hopeful the inclusion of the Games at the Summer Games level will lead to something even bigger.
“Lacrosse has received provisional recognition from the International Olympic Committee in November; this is an exiting time for the lacrosse community in Canada and around the world.
“We’re optimistic moving forward to be part of the Olympic Games.”
The Canada Games Council is also elated at the announcement.
“Adding a culturally vital sport like lacrosse to the Canada Games sport program is just one way we can contribute to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action related to sport,” said Evan Johnston, Chair of Canada Games Council Board of Directors.
The announcement was made before a packed gallery of politicians, dignitaries and who’s who of lacrosse from across Niagara.
“This is going to bring a new uprising of youth lacrosse,” St. Catharines Athletics captain Latrell Harris said. “They’re going to be able to come out and watch it live and see what it’s going to be like.
“I think it will only help us get more players into minor lacrosse.”
Harris was thrilled to see so many recognizable faces on hand.
“It’s amazing to see all the alumni of St. Catharines junior A lacrosse. We get together and it’s a big thing.”
The games will be played in both Six Nations and at the proposed Canada Games Park, which is slated to be built next to Brock University.
“We’re continuing our plans on that facility and we’re also asking for additional provincial and federal funding for that facility which we’re hoping to get word on soon, but our plans are continuing,” Hamilton said.
According to Hamilton, the facility is slated to have a huge four-gym gymnasium, indoor track, two arenas which will be used for both ice sports and box lacrosse, and outdoor beach volleyball facility, track facility, and cycling centre.
“It will be an incredible facility,” he said.
Hamilton pegged the cost at just under $100 million, which also includes improvements to baseball fields and rowing facilities across Niagara.
“Our shovel has to be in the ground this fall and we’re working towards that deadline,” he said.
The 2021 Canada Games will take place from Aug. 6-22 at venues and facilities across the Niagara region. In addition to 18 sporting events, the 2021 Canada Games will celebrate Canadian and Indigenous Cultures in all 12 Niagara municipalities with a series of festivals and event programming leading up to, and during the Games.
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