The 2017 North American Indigenous Games

Author: 
Lily Dong

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 09:21

The 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) will be hosted by Toronto from July 16-23, with venues across the Greater Toronto Area. This will be the 10th NAIG to be staged, the first having taken place in 1990. Travelling from across Canada and the United States, over 5000 Indigenous athletes aged 13-19 will compete in 14 sports (3-D archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, canoe/kayak, golf, lacrosse, rifle shooting, soccer, softball, swimming, wrestling, volleyball). Not only are the sporting competitions an opportunity for Indigenous youth to compete and display their athletic prowess, but the ongoing cultural events of the NAIG provide a way for participants, spectators, and volunteers to showcase and celebrate their heritage.

#Team88 and the Social Impact of the NAIG

“We call upon all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth, and continued support for the NAIG, including funding to host the games and for provincial and territorial team preparation and travel”

                                                                                                - Call to Action #88

The 2017 NAIG introduced #team88 to highlight the benefits and the impact sport and wellness have on Indigenous communities, as well as the importance of sport in the goal of reconciliation. It is also a way to bring attention to all 94 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.

Through surveys, interviews, and focus groups after the 2014 NAIG, Praxis Consulting evaluated the social impact of the event. Their findings emphasize the positive influence the NAIG have on all those who are involved, and support Call to Action #88 in showing the importance of continuing the funding and organization of the NAIG:

  • The NAIG had an influence on the long-term involvement of participants in sport
  • In general, NAIG participants had healthier lifestyles when compared to non-participants
  • The NAIG, and its location on a university campus, influenced many participants’ intentions to pursue post-secondary education
  • More than 80% of the athletes answered that being involved in sport helped them avoid negative life choices and make healthy lifestyle choices instead
  • Almost 90% of participants had more confidence after being involved in the NAIG
  • The NAIG enhanced respondents’ connection with their Indigenous heritage
  • Athletes felt comfortable in their environment because of the cultural aspect and the large number of other First Nations, Métis, and Inuit participants   

#AllOne

The theme of the 2017 NAIG is “Past, Present, Future. All One.” The aim is to celebrate the heritage (past), unity (present) and youth (future) as people and communities from all over North America converge to unite through sport.

Although athletes must have North American Indigenous ancestry to compete, there are many ways for all people to get involved and participate as spectators, volunteers, and sponsors. The Cultural Festival, running from July 17-22, will feature Indigenous music, art, cuisine, and artisans, and is another opportunity to experience the rich culture and heritage.

Sources:
2014 North American Indigenous Games Evaluation Report. Praxis Research/Strategy.
2017 North American Indigenous Games. Toronto 2017 NAIG Host Society.

About the Author: Lily is a fourth-year student in the kinesiology program at Western University, currently interning with SIRC. With a background in synchronized swimming, she continues to be actively involved in the sport as a coach and varsity athlete.