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Hockey and lacrosse, Canada’s national sports, are based on games that Aboriginal Canadians have been playing for hundreds of years.

Games in Aboriginal Culture

Canada has two official sports: lacrosse for summer and hockey for winter. Both have been played by Aboriginals across North America for hundreds of years. Baggataway, the stick-and-ball game that lacrosse is based on, sometimes took place on fields that could be as long as a mile—it’s hard to get a breakaway in an arena that size, especially with up to 100 participants in a single game. Historically, these games were an important part of Aboriginal culture and the upbringing of children. Many traditional games were designed to train physical, mental and social skills like agility, strength, hand-eye coordination, orienteering, cooperation and teamwork.

Discussion Questions

What skills have you learned from games? Do games form an important part of culture? How so? In the 20th Century, hockey became more popular than lacrosse because hockey leagues included more kinds of players, including Aboriginals. How can sports be used as opportunities to include and learn about others?


Library and Archives Canada. “Aboriginal Hockey.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. “Lacrosse.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. “Sports History.”

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