The North American Indigenous Games is an athletic event, but art has also become an important part of the event.

Jason Baerg is one of six mentors working with 26 emerging artists at the games. The participants are delving into dance, visual arts, carving, performance and design.

“I really believe the foundation of a people is their culture,” said Baerg, “When we talk about culture we talk about their games, it's their food, it's their language, it's their art."

Baerg, a Cree Métis ​visual artist from Ontario,​ is helping participants get ready for a once-in-a-lifetime performance -- the closing ceremonies. He hopes the experience will inspire young creators.

Mikey Mills

Michael Mills, from Colorado, competed as an athlete in a previous NAIG. This year he is participating as an artist. (CBC)

The last time Mikey Mills was at the games, he was there as an athlete. But now he's here as an artist.

“It’s really really  different being an artist, you come together and collaborate with them, you share stories,” said the 18-year-old. "And you really respect them, you know, and you understand that we are all the same people.”

“I like my culture and traditions,” said Katrina Stewart, a beader from Fort McPherson, N.W.T. “I wouldn’t mind going to learn some more, I love the college here.”

Baerg says his team is working hard to make the closing ceremonies special. And he hopes this arts program makes people proud.

“When i think about the arts we are there to honour the athletes as well, to cheer them on, to acknowledge the great work that they've done, so we all need each other and it’s a really important aspect of the games," he said.

The artists will perform in the closing ceremonies on Saturday.