Grimshaw Jr/Sr High to Host 2016 Hand Games on May 6

Grimshaw Jr/Sr High to Host 2016 Hand Games on May 6

Students from Peace River School Division (PRSD) will be competing in the 10th Annual Hand Games Competition on Friday, May 6, 2016. Grimshaw Jr/Sr High is pleased to be hosting over 200 students from 10 schools across the division for the 2016 competition.

Each year for the past 10 years PRSD students have participated in the games by forming teams of eight (plus one spare) and then gathering to compete in this traditional First Nation’s game. Along with their instructors the teams learn the history and rules of the game and then practice in preparation.

“It’s really encouraging to see how excited some of these teams are, and how competitive they get when they actually get into the games” says Deputy Superintendent and Hand Games Committee Chair, Karen Penney. “It’s a fantastic learning opportunity that completely immerses students in the rich Indigenous history and tradition and also introduces them to the drumming and culture that accompanies the games.”

Hand games have been a part of First Nation’s history for hundreds of years and are still played in many parts of North America. Historically the games were played as a means of trading goods as well as for social entertainment. While specifics of the game vary by region it is traditionally played as a hiding and guessing game where players use lively gestures and movements to distract their opponents and ensure they do not guess in which hand they are hiding an item. Winners are awarded sticks and eventually the winning team will have all or a majority of the sticks. The game is also accompanied by traditional drumming. PRSD Board Chair Darren Kuester believes that the hand games teach many important lessons.

“The games are great because they don’t require a lot of equipment or materials and the concept is simple enough for kids of any age to learn. The Hand Games really demonstrate teamwork and leadership and give students an opportunity to practice good sportsmanship while learning about culture and community.”

Participating teams will be divided into three groups: Grades 1-6, 7-9 and 10-12. Teams will play several matches against different teams which will result in a round-robin style tournament with single elimination playoffs. The games will begin at 10 AM with the smudging of the drummers and will end at 2 PM with an awards ceremony for winning teams as well as for Movers and Shakers and Chanters. Everyone is welcome to attend the Hand Games.