North American Indigenous Games

Indigenous Games kick off in Toronto

The 2017 North American Indigenous Games is billed as the largest sports and cultural gathering of Indigenous peoples on the continent. It starts with tonight's opening ceremony in Toronto.

Here's a look ahead at this week's sporting and cultural events around the city

Next week is NAIG week as the Toronto and Hamilton region hosts the North American Indigenous Games, billed as the largest sports and cultural gathering of Indigenous peoples on the continent.

With 14 sports, 5,000 athletes, 2,000 volunteers and thousands of visitors expected to watch, participate and cheer on, preparing for the games was a challenge.

CEO Marcia Trudeau hints it was labour born of necessity. Sport is a "crucial" pathway to well-being for Indigenous peoples, Trudeau told CBC News. 

That's why this year's games, the first since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in 2015, officially upholds its 88th call to action: to fund and support Indigenous athletes through events like NAIG.

Entry to individual events, nightly concerts and the weeklong cultural festival is free of charge — and everyone is welcome.

To watch and follow along the North American Indigenous Games, visit

Here's a breakdown of the week's events.

Sunday, July 16

This group of six performers, led by choreographer Santee Smith, open the North American Indigenous Games on Sunday at Toronto's Aviva Centre. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

The Games' opening ceremony at York University's Aviva Centre features a parade of 5,000 athletes, house DJ Classic Roots and a dance performance curated by Santee Smith.

On Sunday night, check the CBC Toronto Facebook page at 5 p.m. ET for a sneak peek of tonight's festivities. 

Due to inclement weather the opening ceremony has been delayed. Tune in to our live stream at 9:00 p.m. ET. Find that at

In Toronto for the Games? You're invited to the CBC Broadcasting Centre for a viewing party in the atrium. We'll have a colouring station and giveaways, plus a live stream of the opening ceremony.

Doors open at 8 p.m.

Monday, July 17

(North American Indigenous Games)

Basketball, badminton, baseball and rifle shooting all kick off across Toronto today; soccer, softball and lacrosse will take over Hamilton venues. 

CBC will stream sports events and concerts throughout the week. ö

Over at York U is the Toronto culture hub, where vendors share Indigenous crafts, music and workshops all week.

Starting at 8 p.m. ET, the 9,000-seat Aviva Centre hosts two live acts: Canadian folk duo Digging Roots and DJ Shub of A Tribe Called Red fame.

Getting there: If you're taking public transit, hop on Line 1 northbound to Sheppard West station. From there, take the 106 York University bus westbound.

Tuesday, July 18

(North American Indigenous Games)

Canoe and kayak, wrestling and golf contests begin today.

Catch Genevieve Fisher and Crystal Shawanda at NAIG's nightly concert, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Want to know more about NAIG athletes? Check out our yearbook.

Wednesday, July 19

(North American Indigenous Games)

Volleyball starts today with a packed 9 a.m.-8 p.m. schedule at York University. 

Meanwhile, wrestling wraps up with gold medal matches at 1:30 p.m. at the Toronto Track and Field Centre.

Most sports have an event today. If you're having trouble deciding what to see, check out CBC's pre-Games coverage on 3D archery, lacrosse and volleyball:

Singer-songwriter Mimi O'Bonsawin and cellist Cris Derksen take the stage in Toronto tonight.

Thursday, July 20

(North American Indigenous Games)

Swimmers convene for a two-day meet starting today at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre at the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus.

See Indigenous hip-hop artist Shibastik and Attawapiskat legends Midnight Shine perform at the Aviva Centre.

Friday, July 21

Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq is headlining Friday's concert at the Aviva Centre in Toronto. (Canadian Press)

Things heat up today for athletes in eight sports in which the gold medallists will be determined by the end of the day.

NAIG's last concert features Quebec rock artist Kathia Rock and Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq.

Saturday, July 22

The Toronto NAIG Host Society unveiled the 2017 medal to mark 30 days until the Games' opening ceremonies. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

Soccer and volleyball championships happen today as the Games wrap up.

A birch bark canoe affixed with panels designed by NAIG teams will be carried in a ceremonial walk at Toronto's Harbourfront to honour the Games' volunteers.

Saturday will close the first Indigenous Games held on the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog Island, Six Nations of the Grand River, Huron-Wendat and Métis nations.