The provincial government welcomed members of the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Council to Victoria with an announcement of $3.5 million in support for the 2020 Games bid by the Songhees First Nation.
“I’m happy to support the Songhees Nation’s bid to host the 2020 North American Indigenous Games,” said Premier John Horgan. “Sport plays a powerful role in the development of young people. These Games present an opportunity to engage Indigenous youth in sport, and build on British Columbia’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations. We’d be thrilled to host the 2020 Games here.”
The government is committing $3.5 million, or 35% of the Games’ budget, in support of the Songhees Nation’s bid. Additionally, the Province will support a cultural program as a lasting legacy. The Songhees Nation has brought together various parties to put forward its bid for the 2020 Games in the territory of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples, in the Greater Victoria area. The NAIG Council is visiting to assess Greater Victoria as a venue for the Games.
“I sincerely thank Chief Ron Sam and the Songhees Nation bid committee for their vision and hard work in bringing this bid so far,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism. “In British Columbia, we have hosting expertise and enthusiastic volunteers, and I know this will prove a valuable, lasting legacy for NAIG athletes, coaches and our province.”
Hosting the Games presents a unique opportunity for British Columbia to support the vision for NAIG 2020 — to improve the quality of life for Indigenous peoples by supporting self-determined sports and cultural activities. The Games also encourage equal access to participation in the social, cultural and spiritual fabric of the community in which they reside, and respects Indigenous distinctiveness.
“The provincial government honours us and all Indigenous peoples throughout British Columbia with their support of our bid to host the North American Indigenous Games in 2020,” said Chief Sam of the Songhees Nation. “Sport has played a significant role in my own life, and through sport, I see confidence and pride developing in my children and in youth throughout Indigenous communities. When one youth rises, others are encouraged to dream, to risk and to try, we all benefit. With the leadership and confidence of the provincial government, the 2020 North American Indigenous Games will serve as an important opportunity to illuminate for others the authentic journey of reconciliation that we are traveling tgether with our partners in this region.”
The Games are closely connected to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Five of the commission’s 94 Calls to Action deal with sports — including Action 88 that calls for continued support for the North American Indigenous Games and long-term athlete development.
The 2020 Games mark the North American Indigenous Games’ 30th anniversary, and are expected to be held in July 2020. If the Songhees Nation is chosen as the successful bid by the NAIG Council in May 2018, this will be the third time the Games have been held on Vancouver Island. The Games were held in Victoria in 1997 and in Cowichan in 2008, where the economic impact was estimated to be $34.3 million.
- 2020 NAIG will welcome 5,000 athletes, aged 13 to 19; 300 cultural delegates; 1,500 volunteers; and team officials and cultural delegates from 26 regions throughout North America.
- 14 core sports will be featured, and the 2020 NAIG bid proposes adding Rugby Sevens as a trial sport.
- The Games often attract up to 2,000 performers and artisans taking part in the cultural program.
- Team B.C. placed first at each of the last two NAIG — 2017 in Toronto and 2014 in Regina.
- The 2008 Cowichan Games created the legacy of the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I-SPARC).
North American Indigenous Games Council: http://naigcouncil.com/