Halifax playing host to two major Indigenous gatherings in 2020
Assembly of First Nations chiefs coming just before North American Indigenous Games
First Nations chiefs from across Canada have chosen Halifax for their next annual general assembly, and they'll be in the city just before the start of the North American Indigenous Games.
Morley Googoo, the Assembly of First Nations regional chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, thinks it may be the largest Indigenous gathering in Canadian history.
All told, the AFN gathering will include 600 chiefs and 1,600 delegates. That's on top of the 6,000 athletes, coaches and spectators expected for the Indigenous Games.
"It's huge," Googoo told reporters Monday after the official announcement at the Halifax Convention Centre.
The AFN will hold its assembly July 7-9, while the games will run from July 12-18.
Googoo said Halifax is an example of how a city can take the lead when it comes to reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
The city, he said, "didn't hesitate" to remove the statue of Halifax's controversial founder, Edward Cornwallis, from a downtown park last year. Cornwallis had issued a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi'kmaw person.
"The city here takes the lead, even when it's not popular or risky at the time," Googoo said. "The city has been a champion."
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage called the Indigenous Games "the biggest athletic event that has ever happened in Atlantic Canada, so that's going to be awesome in and of itself."
"If you add the fact that the Assembly of First Nations is going to have their annual general assembly here, that's a pretty big deal as well," he said.
According to an economic impact study filed as part of the bid to lure the AFN meeting to Halifax, the chiefs' meeting could generate as much as $4 million for the region.