North American Indigenous Games Has Higher Purpose

By Connie Jeske Crane, July 11, 2017

The North American Indigenous Games is billed as the largest continental sporting event for Indigenous people. But beyond the 14-sport event, held July 16-23, in Toronto, the games and much more compelling mission. Namely, they are a cultural celebration meant to encourage young Indigenous athletes and promote reconciliation.

Mounted every few years across the United States and Canada—Denver hosted in 2005, as did Blaine, Minnesota in 1995—the games premiered in 1990 in Alberta. This year marks the event’s 10th installment. Admission is primarily free and two cultural festivals are planned. All told, the Toronto region expects to welcome more than 5,000 athletes, 2,000 volunteers and scores of visitors. Connect Sports talked with CEO Marcia Trudeau-Bomberry about the event.

Can you speak about the mission and significance of the Indigenous Games?

This is a sporting competition but it’s also a cultural gathering… and a time to celebrate the diversity of Indigenous cultures. There are hundreds of tribes and groups across North America. What makes these games unique is that, alongside the sporting competition, we will have a cultural festival that will be celebrated at two sites: McMaster University in Hamilton and York University in Toronto.

As CEO, what kind of experience has this been for you in terms of challenges and rewards?

One of our biggest challenges at the outset—and we all knew this coming in—was that time was not on our side. All the staff came on board in July 2016, and opening ceremonies take place on July 16, 2017. On the sponsorship side, for example, major corporations make budget decisions well in advance of one year out.

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