Kendal Bear will compete in three events at the 2023 North American Indigenous Games, but the humble track and field star doesn’t seem to believe it.
Even after the 16-year-old placed first in the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints and high jump for his age group at the Manitoba Team Trials, he needed further confirmation that he was on the team to really believe it, he joked.
“Honestly, I feel very excited. I thought I wasn’t going to make it until I got the email confirming I did it,” the track star Brokenhead Ojibway Nation laughed.
Bear’s best performance in the three events he competed in at the University of Manitoba Varsity Stadium tryouts in mid-July earned him a ticket to games in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Nova Scotia, on Mi’kmaq territory from July 15 to 23.
Despite his humility, his athletic feats are nothing new, said his mother, Miranda Carver. She noticed her son’s talent when he was quite young.
“He played lacrosse, soccer, basketball and ran the Manitoba Marathon three or four years in a row. Since he was little, he has been very active.
But her son said competing at the Indigenous Games is a new experience.
“I’ve been active for the past few years, but this is actually the first time I’ve tried something like this.”
The 2023 North American Indigenous Games are still more than 300 days away, but Bear said the support of family and friends keeps him motivated to train and “on the positive side.”
These friends and family of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, about 65 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg on the south shore of Lake Winnipeg, express their support.
“He’s a rock star! He’s definitely a face of youth sports here at Brokenhead,” said Taylor Galvin, his former college basketball coach.
“It’s like he’s found a sense of identity that he didn’t know was there.”
Her mother said everyone in the community has been really supportive.
“It’s brought a lot of attention to him. A lot of people have faith in him, saying things like ‘I knew he could do it’ – they’re really behind us supporting him financially, emotionally, everything like that” , she said.