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Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario – ONBI will showcase participation from across Ontario as Indigenous youth come together for a weekend of sport, community and culture in Thunder Bay. 

Mississauga, Ontario – April 11, 2019 – Indigenous youth representing more than 30 Ontario First Nation communities, in addition to Métis and urban Indigenous youth, are expected to come together to compete at the fifth annual Ontario Native Basketball Invitational (ONBI), over the Easter long-weekend (April 19-21) in Thunder Bay, Ontario. 

Communities represented by participating athletes and coaches at the 2019 ONBI will include: 

Atikameksheng First Nation, Batchewana First Nation, Bearskin Lake First Nation, Black River First Nation (Manitoba), Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Deer Lake First Nation, Dokis First Nation, Eagle Lake First Nation, Fort Albany First Nation, Fort Hope (Eabametoong) First Nation, Fort William First Nation, Garden River First Nation, Grassy Narrows First Nation, Gull Bay First Nation, Heron Bay First Nation, Keewaywin First Nation, Lac Seul First Nation, Long Lake #58 First Nation, Marten Falls First Nation, M’Chigeeng First Nation, Mattagami First Nation, Moose Cree First Nation, Moose Factory, Muskaday First Nation (Saskatchewan), Naicatchewenin First Nation, Niisaachewan First Nation, Naotkamegwanning First Nation, Pic Mobert First Nation, Rocky Bay First Nation, Round Lake First Nation, Sagkeeng First Nation, Sandy Lake First Nation, Shoal Lake 39 First Nation, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, Wasauksing First Nation, Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation, Whitesand First Nation and Wikwemikong First Nation. 

It is so important to highlight where these youth and teams are coming from – they represent their communities and who they are as Indigenous Peoples,” says Marc Laliberte, President of Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario. “The ONBI is more than basketball. It’s an opportunity for Indigenous youth and communities to come together to share, learn, and celebrate achievements. The friendships made on and off the court, can last a lifetime and the experience of participating in a provincial tournament, can open new doors and pathways for building capacity, developing skills, increasing confidence and strengthening self-identity. Hosting the 2019 ONBI in Thunder Bay was an important step to supporting our Indigenous communities in the region. And with teams attending from across the province, it sends a strong message of resilience and hope, achieved through something, as simple as sport.” 

Youth attending the tournament will have the opportunity to compete over three days, participate in cultural programming, learn more about Team Ontario and the North American Indigenous Games, and attend a community feast, supported by the Youth Inclusion Program (a program developed by the City of Thunder Bay and partner agencies). Local businesses have also joined in to support the event, offering discounts and free passes for activities such as bowling and swimming. 

ISWO leadership and event organizers stress that the number one priority for the 2019 ONBI is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all participants. ISWO is working in partnership with the City of Thunder Bay and Thunder Bay First Responders, to develop a comprehensive safety plan which will include support from local Elders, Friendship Centres and nearby communities. The City of Thunder Bay, alongside Thunder Bay Tourism, the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre and the Thunder Bay Airport are all official partners of the fifth annual basketball tournament, an initiative funded by the Government of Ontario. 

About ONBI 

The Ontario Native Basketball Invitational (ONBI) brings together teams from across Ontario to compete in a friendly, yet competitive invitational style tournament. Indigenous youth of high school age (between the ages of 14-18) travel with their teams and family members to compete and have fun. With a number of cultural and leadership activities offered throughout the entire tournament, ONBI builds confidence, creates friendships and strengthens communities, while creating opportunities for Indigenous youth to participate in competitive sport with their peers. The ONBI is also an identifier for participation in the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). 

Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) Quick Facts: 

  • ISWO is the designated Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Body (P/TASB) for the province of Ontario, primarily funded through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. 
  • ISWO serves all Indigenous Peoples and communities across the province of Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, living on and off-reserve, in rural and urban settings, encompassing more than 350,000 Indigenous Peoples. 
  • ISWO promotes and creates opportunities for participation in sport and cultural activities that promote wellness and positive lifestyles for Indigenous Peoples across Ontario. 
  • ISWO provides opportunities for physical literacy and competitive sport skill development and training by creating sport development pathways, designed specifically for Indigenous youth. 
  • ISWO is recognized by the Aboriginal Sport Circle (ASC) and the North American Indigenous Games Council, and is the designated sport body for the development, selection and management of Team Ontario, which participates in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) and North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). 


For more information about ISWO, visit



ISWO honours the traditional lands and homelands of all Indigenous Peoples and communities across the province of Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis living both on and off reserve, in rural and urban communities. 

Contact Information: 

Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) 

Kylie Thompson, Communications and Media Coordinator 

City of Thunder Bay 

Kelly Robertson, General Manager – Community Services