A petition with more than 12,000 signatures on it is circulating on social media asking eight countries to withdraw from the 2022 world lacrosse games scheduled for Birmingham, Alabama in 2022 after the Iroquois Nationals were left out of the tournament.
The petition was started by Aidan Fearn, 18, a lacrosse player himself from Glooscap First Nation in Nova Scotia and asks Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, United States, Czech Republic, Israel and New Zealand to “unite in support” and “refuse to participate.”
“Qualifications for the World games was based primarily on final placement in 2017 (women’s) and 2018 (men’s) World championships organized by the Federation of International Lacrosse, now World Lacrosse,” the petition states.
“The Iroquois Nationals men finished 3rd and are full members, like other countries included. But they have not received an invite despite placing third. Teams ranked lower have been selected instead.”
Fearn is hoping the petition works.
“The whole idea behind this petition is to kind of write to the World Games and to show that the whole entire lacrosse community — not just the Indigenous folks are kind of behind the idea and supporting that this isn’t right,” Fearn told APTN News.
“And I think that, it’s that simple. It’s just… the idea behind the petition is to bring everyone together, all on the same page, and help the World Games understand that this is not inclusion. It’s not fair.”
Fearn stressed that he does not speak on behalf of the Iroquois Nationals and expressed respect for Haudenosaunee origin of lacrosse, which is known as the Creator’s Game.
“The origin of the Creator’s Game has to be respected,” Fearn said.
The six-nation confederacy that makes up the Haudenosaunee Nation is sovereign. The team travels with Haudenosaunee passports and competed as a nation member of World Lacrosse at the FIL World Lacrosse Championship in Netanya, Israel in 2018.
There, Canada brought home a silver medal after defeat by the United States.
Australia, Great Britain, Japan, Israel, Germany and Ireland failed to out-perform the Iroquois Nationals who won bronze at that tournament, yet each were invited to play at the 2022 World Games based on those results.
Top lacrosse players, including some from the Iroquois Nationals team have shown support for the petition on social media.
So this is the same old story, different time in history.
As native people we’ll continue to run this ever lasting track of hurdles.
it’s timeless and exhausting but must continue to fight.
The colonizers don’t want Indigenous people to be native. Want us to be Canadian/American pic.twitter.com/7dd3TVtThx
— LYLE THOMPSON (@lyle4thompson) July 24, 2020
Lyle Thompson, is an Onondaga lacrosse player and former two-time Tewaaraton Award winner who was named Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year in Major League Lacrosse last year.
“So this is the same old story, different time in history. As native people we’ll continue to run this ever lasting track of hurdles. it’s timeless and exhausting but must continue to fight,” he wrote in the tweet. “The colonizers don’t want Indigenous people to be native. Want us to be Canadian/American and history have proven that. Residential schools, blood quantum’s, passports, ect. they don’t want to acknowledge us for who we are. And it’s indigenous land AGAIN.. I know I sound furious and that’s because I am.”
World Lacrosse posted a statement on Twitter July 22.
“World Lacrosse fully respects the contributions and status of the Iroquois Nationals within international lacrosse. That is why the Haudenosaunee Nation, which gave the world The Creator’s Game, is recognized as a full member of World Lacrosse, and why the Iroquois Nationals have been eligible to compete in every World Championship event conducted by World Lacrosse,” the tweet said.
Read statement from the Iroquois Nationals:
— IROQUOIS NATIONALS LACROSSE (@IRQ_Nationals) July 24, 2020
For events conducted outside the auspices of World Lacrosse, such as international, multisport events, World Lacrosse does not determine the eligibility criteria. That criteria is established by the government body for those events – and it is not uncommon for eligibility criteria to be different.”
The Birmingham organizing committee for the World Games 2022 said it acknowledges the “accomplishments, contributions and enthusiasm” of Iroquois Nationals lacrosse, to the game of lacrosse, but that it’s following the rules set out by the International Olympic Committee.
“As we continue to prepare for The Games, it is important to clarify that decisions regarding the eligibility of any country to qualify to compete in The World Games falls outside of our authority,” the statement said. “The World Games, which is governed by the International World Games Association (IWGA), follows the rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regarding eligibility.
The world games take place every four years following the summer Olympics. A decision was made in April this year to postpone them from their original date in 2021 to July 2022.
The Birmingham Organizing Committee (BOC) cited the rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympic Games to July 2021 as having a significant impact on that decision.
According to Article 30 of the Olympic Charter — which codifies the rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), “the expression country means an independent State recognised by the international community”.
APTN reached out to the International World Games Association but has yet to receive a statement. The Iroquois Nationals were asked for comment but a response was not received by the time of publication.