A new path to championship golf was officially opened tonight as the sun slowly set in front of the beautiful Monthill Clubhouse in Caledonia, Ontario. Over 175 guests were immersed in Haudenosaunee culture and gathered to celebrate the inaugural Ontario Aboriginal Golf Championship.
A collaboration of just eight months between Golf Ontario, Monthill Golf & Country Club and the people of the Six Nations of Grand River Territory, the event held to officially launch this first championship of its kind did not disappoint.
Master of Ceremonies Delby Powless, Chair of the Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation and friend of the community, welcomed all in attendance and acted as gracious host throughout the evening on behalf of the local organizing committee. His first task was to introduce Cam Hill & Eddie Thomas who set the stage for a traditional welcome prayer which was quickly followed by three ceremonial dances to the delight of the crowd.
Chief Mark Hill of Six Nations of the Grand was the first speaker to address the dinner guests after the lively cultural dances. Chief Hill spoke passionately about the proud culture of the people of the Six Nations, one of Canada’s largest communities. He noted how fitting it was that everyone was coming together tonight because of the leadership and combined efforts of Golf Ontario, working hand-in-hand with Championship Organizing Committee Co-Chairs Jesse Smith and Stephen Tooshkenig, as well as a broader team in Monthill worked .
Following Chief Hill’s remarks, Golf Ontario CEO Mike Kelly shared his enthusiasm for the inaugural championship. Kelly explained that the event represents another step towards an environment where Golf For All is not just a statement in a strategic planning document, but a North Star that the organization will work toward every day. As the first provincial sports organization within Canadian golf to create a similar championship for golfers of all skill levels, the Indigenous Ontario Golf Championship has already inspired at least one other provincial governing body to follow suit in the coming months.
With best wishes from Ontario Premier Michael Tibollo, Assistant Secretary of State for Mental Health and Addiction, he recognized the tremendous spirit of collaboration between Gulf Ontario, Monthill and the local community. Tibollo went on to share the news of how much has been achieved through the partnership with his colleagues in the legislature. He concluded his remarks by further acknowledging that his previous experience with Golf Ontario, having worked in the tourism, cultural and sporting sectors, bodes well for this new championship and the years of great progress in this area.
After a delicious meal prepared by Monthill’s chef using locally sourced ingredients such as Buffalo mozzarella, organic vegetables from The New Farm, grass-fed local beef and green beans from Barrie Hill Farm introduced Smith, Monthill’s Head Pro and Director of Instruction, a co-chair of the organizing committee, to three local pro athletes Q&A about her journey from the local community to the heights of NCAA championships and National League titles in the sport of lacrosse. While each of the three panelists is incredibly adept at their professional sporting endeavors, they took advantage of several opportunities to share how golf has also been an important part of shaping who they are, or by allowing them to find clarity beyond the demands of their Teams training, travel and competitions.
It was the words of the panelists that, while echoing the words of previous speakers Chief Hill and MC Powless, seemed to resonate most with the audience as they spoke. They spoke of gratitude for the land they live and play in, the opportunities to compete in sport and the people who have supported them on their travels. When asked how they prepared for the rigors of competition, they all spoke of finding the peace and clarity of mind they were taught from a young age. One of the players, who had signed what was likely his last professional contract, when asked what he thought life would hold for him when he retired from professional competition, was quick to reply that he would play more golf. Here at Monthill. In the community that supports him and where he plans to teach the same shared values of his community to his two young sons, the next generation of potential leaders from this proud Haudenosaunee community.
The competition begins Monday, September 19 in the two-day, 36-hole championship that will crown the first-ever Ontario Indigenous Golf Champion.
The Indigenous Ontario Championship is played and hosted at MontHill Golf & Country Club in Six Nations, Ontario. Open to men and women of all ages, this championship is a 36-hole competition with a gross division and a net Stableford division and recognizes the best junior and senior players: Golf Ontario has worked closely with Indigenous leaders to ensure that this event provides players and spectators with a memorable provincial championship experience. The championship will raise awareness of the growth of the game of golf and the impact it could have on communities.
About Gulf Ontario
Golf Ontario is Ontario’s provincial sports organization focused on increasing participation, enhancing performance and supporting the passion of Ontario’s golfers. With over 100,000 individual members and 500 member clubs, Golf Ontario is one of the largest golf associations in the world. Golf Ontario is a passionate group dedicated to shaping life through golf, from evaluating courses and maintaining the integral rules of the game, to promoting the game at the grassroots level and hosting the premier amateur tournaments in Canada.
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John Lawrence, Director, Competitions and Performance, Golf Ontario
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