A feast and drum dance drew a large crowd in Ndilo, N.W.T., last night as the Yellowknives Dene First Nation celebrated homegrown Canada Winter Games medallist, Brent Betsina, who last month took home the N.W.T.’s first medal from the Canada Winter Games in eight years.
“It’s not only for the Northwest Territories,” Ndilo Chief Ernest Betsina, and Brent’s uncle, says of the win. “It’s for our little community of Ndilo that are behind him 100 per cent. It’s really an honour to support that.”
Betsina, 18, won the medal in men’s over 100 kg category in judo. The last medal win at the games was by Hay River skier Brendan Green in 2007, who went on to represent Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games.
The chief says Brent is active in both drumming and hand games and is a strong student at the community’s school, where he says Brent is now a role model.
“We’re very proud of him,” says Lisa Goulet of the Yellowknives Dene Wellness Division. “It shows all the other youth if you work hard and you dedicate yourself and you want to achieve something you can achieve it.”
The win seems to already be having an impact.
“Maybe I should try stuff like this,” says 11-year-old Riley Pond of Yellowknife. “Win medals for the same thing as Brent is doing. I’m going try to push myself. I’m going to try to do something like that.”
And being a role model also seems to be having an effect on Brent. Despite talk of retiring from competitive judo, he’s decided he now has different plans.
“More workout, more training, put my butt into it,” he says.
“I want to try to make it to the Olympics.”