Through My Lens: The 2023 North American Indigenous Games

Two women wearing sweatshirts stand together and smile, one holding a black bag filled with sweetgrass.
Photographer April Maloney smelled the fragrance of the sweetgrass before she saw it. “What a lovely treat to stand next to these two women who drove from Manitoba to enjoy the 2023 NAIG in Nova Scotia,” she says. (April Maloney)

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard that my home community of Sipekne’katik First Nation was going to be a community host for the 2023 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) softball games. My first thought was, ‘Here? In our small community?’ 

For weeks leading up to the Games, I was delighted to see our community come together — from field prepping and signage to athlete transportation and vendors.

I love to capture special moments in time. My favorite pastime is photography. I was thrilled when asked to share photographs of the Games through my lens and so proud to have had this opportunity to capture for the first time the Games being held in Mi’kmaq communities across Nova Scotia.– April Maloney


Hosting an event of this magnitude is no easy task, and the volunteers and organizers in our communities went above and beyond. Sipekne’katik was ready to welcome the thousands of athletes, spectators, family and friends from across Turtle Island for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

3D archery competition

Our sister community of Millbrook First Nation hosted 3D archery. Millbrook is well known for their archery champions and competitions. Although spectators were not permitted to enter the trails for safety reasons, the experience of meeting competitors and witnessing the opening ceremonies was exciting. 

I must admit that I was surprised and excited to see so many young people passionate about the sport of archery. What was more exciting for me was knowing that so many of our youth were making new friends from across North America. What a great experience!

Man wearing black ball cap lies on the side of a picnic table, with black archery targets in the background.
Millbrook First Nation was the host community for 3D archery. A young man rests up before the big event. (April Maloney)

Two men wearing lime green tshirts, one standing and one sitting near a tent, smile for the camera.
Millbrook First Nation was the host community for 3D archery. Team PEI gathers before competing. (April Maloney.)
A man shakes hands with a boy wearing a tie dye t-shirt, another boy in a blue t-shirt holding an archery bow looking on.
Archery athletes meeting friends from across Turtle Island (North America) in Millbrook First Nation. (April Maloney)
Boy wearing green t-shirt reading Team PEI holding an archery bow and wearing a black hat.
Athlete from PEI at Millbrook First Nation for the 3D archery competition. (April Maloney)

NAIG archery competition kicks off in Millbrook First Nation, N.S.

Soggy softball championships

At the end of the week, our community hosted the championship softball games. As exciting and beautiful as it was, our province experienced torrential downpours, causing flash flooding which left many games unplayed and cancelled the closing ceremonies. Even with the unpredictable wet weather, it couldn’t dampen the spirits of the athletes and spectators. Crowds still cheered on the teams as they ran in the rain. 

Black and white photo of a baseball team huddling on the side of a ball field.
Torrential rainfall hit the NAIG host community of Sipekne’katik. Ontario’s team patiently waited for the rain to end. Unfortunately, the games for the remainder of the evening had to be cancelled. (April Maloney)
Six baseball players wearing gray sweatpants, red jerseys and a clear rain poncho walking across a wet and muddy parking lot.
Team Ontario caught in the rain at the 2023 North American Indigenous Games. (April Maloney)
Young boys wearing black baseball jersey in a huddle formation.
Team Ontario in a huddle. (April Maloney)

I hope you all enjoy these photographs as much as I enjoyed taking them.

More photos from April

Young girls cleaning silver bleachers in front of a yellow and white tent
After the downpour, these lovely community members helped to wipe down the bleachers. (April Maloney)
Baseball players on a field with a sun setting.
Team Ontario enjoying one of the beautiful Sipekne’katik sunsets. (April Maloney)
Baseball players in blue shirts walking by people sweeping a baseball field.
Volunteers tending to the Sipekne’katik softball field. (April Maloney)
Baseball team
Sipekne’katik softball field. (April Maloney)
Woman smiling through a white fence.
A NAIG volunteer. (April Maloney)
Man smiling wearing white baseball cap backwards and black sunglasses with flag that reads 1752 in red letters above his head.
A NAIG volunteer. (April Maloney)
People walking up steps
The archers head deep into the woods to compete. The trail was closed to the public for safety reasons. (April Maloney)
People walking around on gravel in front of a stage
Millbrook First Nation’s community stage, which was the meeting place for the archers. (April Maloney)



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