Following a career in law enforcement, a former Ladysmith resident is now turning his focus to the rich history of sports among First Nations people.
Steve Sxwithul’txw, a member of the Penelakut First Nations, is the host and producer of a new show airing on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network called Warrior Games.
“It’s a 13-part youth documentary series that focuses on indigenous sports across Canada and the United States,” said Sxwithul’txw, who was an RCMP member in the Ladysmith area between 1995 and 2000. “The gist of the show is highlighting traditional and contemporary sports and even some sports that have been long forgotten and are coming back across the country.”
The show premiered last Saturday on APTN and Ladysmith will play a starring role in the next episode set to air on Sept. 13.
“In Ladysmith, we’re highlighting the war canoe races, which if you live around the Island it’s a staple, it happens every summer. But across Canada people don’t know about it, so what we’re doing is bringing it to the forefront nationally, talking about this amazing sport,” said Sxwithul’txw. “War canoes were used for exactly that back in the day, for war. Now it’s been turned into a sport and there’s rivalry between nations and communities and families.”
He said the show allowed him to work with the Seymour family and Rainbow Canoe Club, spending two full days taking part in canoe races in Kulleet Bay.
The show is set to air Saturday at 3:30 p.m. but Sxwithul’txw advises viewers to check their local listings.
Warrior Games debut with a show highlighting a sport played by the Choctaw Nation called stickball.
“We went down to Mississippi to film it at the World Series of Stickball and it’s a brutal game,” said Sxwithul’txw, adding the game is similar to lacrosse but has 30 players on each side and barely any rules.
Some of the other episodes will look at sports familiar to many Canadians like lacrosse as well as a game called long ball that was recently rediscovered by a First Nations elder in the Six Nations area of Ontario. There will also be contemporary sports like First Nations snowboarding, along with a look at the Arctic Winter Games and the games associated with the Metis people.
Raised in the Cowichan Valley and now living in Victoria, Sxwithul’txw went back to BCIT to study journalism after hanging up his red serge and stetson. He worked for CTV News for a couple of years as a reporter and producer before starting his own company, Kwassen Productions Inc. And it was there that the idea for Warrior Games was hatched.
“We were shooting on another show and were talking to a gentleman down in Arizona and he started talking about indigenous sports and one of my former colleagues we kind of looked at each other and said ‘Wow, indigenous sports, that’s kind of cool,’” recalled Sxwithul’txw.
He pitched the idea to executives with APTN and the Banff TV World Festival and they were very receptive. While the first demo for the show was rejected, Sxwithul’txw was able to fine tune it and have the 13-part series picked up by APTN. But Sxwithul’txw isn’t done yet. He’s now working on developing a reality series for APTN that follows his career as a police officer and focuses on what tribal police officers encounter on a daily basis.
For more on Warrior Games, visit the website www.warriorgames.ca.