In 1990, Indigenous Peoples gathered in Edmonton, Alberta to hold the first inaugural North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). Thirty-three years later, the NAIG council is organizing its upcoming event in Kjipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia).
The University of Toronto has a unique relationship with the NAIG. In 2017, the NAIG asked Bruce Kidd, Olympian and former Vice-President and Principal of U of T Scarborough, to be a flag bearer for the opening ceremonies of the 10th NAIG. The university went on to host four of the 2017 NAIG sports events in the name of Truth and Reconciliation.
As stated on the organization’s website, “NAIG’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Indigenous Peoples by supporting self-determined sports and cultural activities which encourage equal access to participation in the social/cultural/spiritual fabric of the community in which they reside, and which respects Indigenous distinctiveness.”
The largest sport and culture event for North American Indigenous groups, the NAIG invites Indigenous athletes of 16 sport categories to compete. Its goal is to provide a space for the community of Indigenous Peoples of North America. With athletes from every Canadian province and territory, and from 32 US states, the games highlight the incredible diversity from across the continent. To represent this diversity within the game’s council members, a representative of each of Canada’s provinces and territories, and 13 representatives from the United States, are elected.
To honor Indigenous traditions, three sports have been included in the roster: three-dimensional archery, highlighting the sport of hunting with athletes aiming at three-dimensional animal props; box lacrosse—Canada’s national summer sport—which is believed to be a gift from the Creator (a supreme Being that created the world); and a canoe and kayaking event that acknowledges the Indigenous community’s historical use of canoes and kayaks to hunt and transport goods for trade. Each of the traditional sports will be honored through a special opening ceremony to celebrate the sports’ origins and importance.
Along with the sporting events to be held during the next NAIG, the organization will celebrate Mi’kmaq customs, traditions, and cultural values through music, art, and oral history as Nova Scotia is home to the Mi’kmaq people.
This is the first time the events will be held in Atlantic Canada. The NAIG team hosted an event this past July to celebrate the one-year countdown to the 2023 games. The event included singing and dancing, volunteer recruitment, and Indigenous vendors to support the local community. With over 5,000 athletes expected to attend the next games, the NAIG committee hopes to recruit about 3,000 operations support volunteers.
More information on the time and dates of NAIG cultural and sporting events, as well as the live broadcasting of the ceremonies, will be updated on the organization’s website closer to the start of the games.
Associate Features Editor (Volume 48 & 49) — A recent graduate from UTM, Dalainey is currently working on completing her post-graduate studies in Professional Writing in Ottawa. She previously served as Staff Writer for The Medium‘s 47th Volume and as Associate Features Editor for Volume 48. Through her passion for languages, Dal hopes to create a fun and inviting atmosphere for readers through her contributions to the paper. When she isn’t working, Dal focuses on developing digital art and writing her first novel. You can connect with Dal on her Instagram or LinkedIn.