SSNL Launches Indigenous Games Foundation Sport

October 12, 2023 by  
Filed under Canadian Sport Features

New for the 2023/2024 school year, SSNL welcomes new Foundation Sport, Indigenous Games.

As the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation approaches, and schools across the province pay tribute to our province’s Indigenous community, history and culture, School Sports NL launches a new Varsity Sport honouring and celebrating Indigenous Games.

This new Foundation sport will be available to all Member schools, province-wide, and will offer student-athletes the opportunity to compete in 10 unique Indigenous Games, at a regional level. Specifically, student-athletes will compete in Seal Crawl, Monkey Dance, Owl Hop, Thong (Stick) Pull, Back-to-Back, One-Foot High Kick, Back Bend, Leg Wrestling, Stick Jump and Bench Reach. Teams of athletes will earn points based on individual performance as well as overall points collected during team events such as the Monkey Dance.

‘We’re very excited to add this sport to our Varsity roster and to provide an avenue in which the Indigenous peoples of our province can share their heritage. These unique games are not only enjoyable to watch but they are steeped in tradition and require great athleticism to master.’ says Karen Richard, SSNL Executive Director. ‘Over time, with the support of our Indigenous partners, we hope to continue to foster appreciation and awareness for these traditional games and the heritage they represent.’

The games selected for the Varsity Foundation sport have historic ties to the Indigenous peoples of Labrador, Newfoundland and Northern Canada. During the long and dark Northern winters, these games helped maintain fitness in the community while building essential skills – strength, agility, flexibility, and endurance – to survive off the land.

SSNL has worked closely with a number of groups on the development of the Indigenous Games Foundation sport including; the Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Circle, Labrador Affairs, Indigenous Education through NLESD, as well as Athletic Directors and Administrators from schools with a prominent Indigenous student population.

SSNL Foundation Sports are the introductory phase of any sport wishing to become an Official Sport through the Varsity Program. This initial level is used to establish a ‘foundation’ of interest from a regional basis, with the hopes of garnering enough interest to transition to Official Sport status. It is at the Official level that student-athletes can compete in a Qualifier tournament to earn their way to the coveted Provincial-level tournament.

To learn more about the Indigenous Games Foundation sport and to register to play for a regional tournament, visit

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