Congratulations to Customs Border Services student Mkons Stone-Debassige! Mkons, who is Anishinaabe from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, has been accepted to play for Aboriginal Team Ontario’s U19 Men’s Basketball team for the 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG)!
“My teammates come from all over Ontario and my competitors from as far away as Texas. Although we are all competing for the gold medals, what we come away with is new friendships, proud to be Indigenous, and experiences of a lifetime,” said Mkons, who is on Aboriginal Team Ontario, which has 400 athletes, 80 coaches and 20 mission staff. The Aboriginal Sport & Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO) is the Provincial Territorial Aboriginal Sport Body overseeing the team.
The NAIG is the largest continental sporting and cultural gathering of Indigenous people. It is a multi-sport, multi-disciplinary event for Indigenous youth across North America between 13 and 19 years of age. There are 14 sport competitions, and a showcase of Indigenous cultural artists and performers. Mkons is one of 5, 000 athletes who will attend the event this July in Toronto.
This is not Mkons’ first time attending the NAIG, as he played on the U16 team three years ago. “It was an awesome experience, for so many Indigenous youth to be gathered from all over North American for the Indigenous Games is just amazing. We all marched into the Roughriders Stadium in our territorial gear and I felt so proud to be Indigenous and to be a part of such a huge event,” said Mkons.
The Fleming College student was involved in a variety of sports growing up but started watching Fleming Knights home games and practices in grade 10, and decided to focus solely on basketball during his senior year at Kenner Collegiate Vocational Institute. His knowledge of the Fleming Knights and friendships with people in the Fleming community made his decision to attend post-secondary school at Fleming College easy.
“Everyone was friendly and encouraged me to be a better player from the beginning,” said Mkons, who played on the Fleming Knights Basketball team this past school year. “I am far younger than all the other players and know that any spot on any varsity team is not to be taken for granted, so I try my best in classes and on the court and am thankful for all that I am blessed to be a part of.”
One of the friendships Mkons made before attending Fleming College was with Kylie Fox, Fleming’s Aboriginal Student Services Coordinator. Kylie said she is excited for the upcoming NAIG and will be cheering for Mkons.
“The theme this year is ‘Past, Present, Future. All One,’ as the North American Indigenous Games unites us through sport to celebrate our past, present and future,” she said. “I am so proud of Mkons, I can’t wait to cheer him on!”