Swimmer Jacob Mitchener will be the Northwest Territories’ flagbearer at the 2023 North American Indigenous Games opening ceremony.
The 17-year-old, a student at Yellowknife’s Sir John Franklin High School, was nominated by his coaches for the role.
Jane Mooney, the technical director of NWT Swimming, said Mitchener deserved the nomination as a role model to younger Indigenous swimmers in the North, training at 6am for six days each week.
“It’s an honour and I’m very excited to lead us out,” he said.
This year’s event in Halifax is Mitchener’s second North American Indigenous Games, having won two bronze medals at the last edition in 2017. He also captained the NWT’s swim team at last year’s Canada Games in Niagara.
He is again captaining the territory’s swimmers in Halifax, his last Games before ageing out. Mooney noted he has won “many territorial medals as well as medals at Alberta provincials” and also juggles his swimming career with representing the territory at volleyball.
“My sister started swimming before I did. She went to NAIG when she was 10 and I went to the one after, when I was 11,” said Mitchener, who was given the news of his selection as flagbearer by father Darryl, the swim team manager.
“Hopefully I’ll medal again. I think the competition is a little stiffer this time so I’m a little nervous, but I hope to do well.”
Sunday’s sold-out opening ceremony will involve a parade of athletes through downtown Halifax before a gathering at the city’s Scotiabank Centre. The ceremony will be streamed live from 4:30pm MT.
There are 136 athletes representing the territory in Nova Scotia, spread across nine of the Games’ 15 sports: archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, golf, soccer, swimming, volleyball and wrestling. Thirty-three coaches and managers plus 13 mission staff are supporting the team.
Events begin on Monday and run until Saturday (see the schedule on NAIG’s website), with the team returning to the NWT on Sunday, July 23.