The new year means the pandemic-postponed, 10th North American Indigenous Games are finally on the horizon.
Originally scheduled to happen in 2020 in the Halifax region and Millbrook First Nation, the 16-sport event is to take place July 15 to 23.
The Games were delayed until 2021 and were postponed again due to public-health concerns and uncertainty regarding the coronavirus.
Opening ceremonies are set for July 16 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, a city hall staff report said last summer. It’s the first time the event will be hosted in Atlantic Canada.
Organizers are expecting more than 5,000 participants; some 3,000 volunteers are being recruited and will receive cultural-awareness training, among other things.
Ottawa is providing up to an additional $4.5 million “for incremental costs due to the postponement of the Games,” in addition to the up to $3.8 million previously earmarked, the host society said in a release last July.
The provincial government is contributing an extra $2.5 million in addition to the $3.5 million already committed.
In 2019, Halifax regional council approved a $500,000 contribution and “in-kind” support covering such items as policing, traffic services, office space and signs, said a municipal staff report filed last June.
Government support for the Games is one of the calls to action made by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The North American Indigenous Games, which will stage competitions involving athletes 13 to 19 years old, “will be the largest multi-sport event ever hosted” in the Atlantic region, organizers have said. Twenty-one venues have been booked for the activities.
Competitors will take part in such sports as lacrosse, canoe/kayaking, baseball, swimming and wrestling. Athletes are from across North America, including 12 U.S. regions containing 32 states.
More than 756 Indigenous nations will be represented at the 2023 Games, the event’s website says. The Games include a cultural program with traditional heritage elements and performers.
Michael Lightstone is a freelance reporter living in Dartmouth