The Torch Relay makes its way to Sagkeeng First Nation and Great Falls

On July 14, the Manitoba Hydro Torch Relay and the Roly McLenahan Torch will pass through Sagkeeng First Nation and Great Falls bringing the excitement of the Games to north-eastern Manitoba.

Sagkeeng First Nation is located 120km north of Winnipeg and belongs to three treaty territories. Since it’s located on both shores of the Winnipeg River, the Ojibwe named the area Sagkeeng which means “mouth of the river.”

Every summer, Sagkeeng welcomes everyone to Treaty Days, a cultural celebration with a community parade, children's activities, a pow wow, fireworks and other community events to honour their ancestors.

In 2012, Sagkeeng received national recognition and fame. Sagkeeng’s Finest, a dancing trio from Sagkeeng, won the first and only Canada’s Got Talent. They combined traditional jigging and modern dance styles like tap dancing in their acts to wow judges and viewers. Each member was awarded the Order of the Buffalo Hunt, a symbol of provincial recognition for noteworthy achievements in sports and other public endeavours. They are among the youngest to ever receive the award.

Sagkeeng’s neighbour, Great Falls, was named for a series of waterfalls on the nearby Winnipeg River before the construction of hydroelectric dams. The Great Falls Generating Station, built on the Winnipeg River, began producing electricity in 1922 and is still in service today. It’s the oldest hydroelectric generating station owned by Manitoba Hydro.

Steve Kush, one of the twenty-one torchbearers, is a father of three from Pine Falls who values sport, youth and culture – the foundation of the Canada Games. He is committed to encouraging his children to live active lives. They play soccer in the summer and in the winter, it’s all about hockey.

“Any sport I can get the kids out playing is great,” said Kush, who coached his oldest daughter’s hockey team.

Kush still finds time to volunteer. He planned and hosted a fundraiser hockey game at the local arena to raise money for operating costs at the rink, and has volunteered through work, community events and with his own hockey team.

Culture also plays an important part in his family’s lives. They participate in the Treaty Days celebration in Sagkeeng every year.

Steve and his soon-to-be wife both grew up in Pine Falls. Times have changed, but he hopes that his kids will have the same relaxed, calm and quiet atmosphere that they had growing up.

He said it starts with bring the community together and getting the children and teens to be active.

“Play sports, run errands, do something nice for someone each day and help your elders,” said Kush.  “We have a basketball court right out front of our home and, all summer long, there’s always a group of people playing basketball from kids to adults.”  

Bearing the torch will be Kush’s first experience with the Canada Games and he said that the 50th anniversary of the Games seems like a good place to start.