From July 16-23, 2017, Toronto is hosting an amazing event! The North American Indigenous Games (or NAIG) are coming! There's so much happening during the games, from sports to cultural events, so let's start exploring.
Participants gather to promote the 2017 North American Indigenous Games, held in Toronto from July 16-23. (Photo from NAIG Host Society)
The North American Indigenous Games have been around for over 25 years although there haven’t been 25 of them. Unlike the Olympics, the NAIG isn’t held regularly. Some games have been as little as two and as many as six years apart. For the first time, they’re being held somewhere other than the western provinces! The 10th NAIG is bringing together over 5,000 young athletes between the ages of 13 and 19 from all 13 provinces and territories, as well as 13 regions of the U.S., to celebrate the incredibly rich heritage of Canada’s Indigenous people.
Mekwan Tulpin, a Cree from Fort Albany First Nation is helping coach Team Ontario in lacrosse. (CBC)
The athletes will compete in a variety of sports; some that were even invented by our First Nations people. There are 14 sports featured in the North American Indigenous Games including canoe and kayak races, lacrosse, rifle shooting, badminton, baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, volleyball, wrestling and athletics (which includes track and field events and cross country races).
Warren Collins of Cochrane, Alberta, is only 15 years old, but he is already making a name for himself in competitive archery. (Photo provided by Jayena Collins)
A sport you may not have seen before is 3D archery. It's different than regular archery because archers shoot at 3D targets shaped like animals that are placed at varying distances instead of shooting at round targets placed at the same distance. The athletes have to use their skills not only to figure out the distance of the targets, but also the scoring rings placed in different spots on each target.
Kelly Duquette of the Métis Nation of Ontario, is a 22-year-old artist and student specializing in Indigenous law. (Photo from Kelly Duquette/CBC)
You won’t just see sporting events at the NAIG. The NAIG will also celebrate Indigenous culture and the heritage of the participants with an amazing showcase of music, food, art and entertainment. Between sports competitions, you can snack on traditional foods such as Indian tacos and bannock or you can also check out the arts and crafts of First Nations, Métis and Inuit artisans at the Indigenous Marketplace.
Karahkwiiohstha King, who also goes by Feryn, teaches and performs traditional Mohawk dance. (Photo from Karahkwiiohstha King/CBC)
You can also catch a drum circle or a dance performance by dancers and musicians from across North America — or Turtle Island, which is the Indigenous name for North America — at the Cultural Festival.
Take a look at the 2017 NAIG logo. The simple design shows an eagle, a feather, a sash and the colours of the Aurora Borealis, or the northern lights. The design isn't just pretty — these symbols of the First Nations (feather), Métis (sash) and Inuit (northern lights) represent all of the Indigenous people of Canada coming together, and the eagle is a symbol of the strength and wisdom of the people.