News / Toronto

What you need to know about the Indigenous Games

It's the first time NAIG has been in eastern Canada.

Tanya Tagaq will perform two free sets later this week as part of NAIG 2017.

Contributed

Tanya Tagaq will perform two free sets later this week as part of NAIG 2017.

The North American Indigenous Games of 2017 have begun.

Following last night's opening ceremonies at the Aviva Centre in North York that featured dance performances by Ontario artists Montana Summers and Keenan Komaksiutisak, 5,000 Indigenous athletes will compete in 14 sports over the next week at many of the same sites as the Pan Am Games in 2015.

The event marks the first time that NAIG, which debuted in 1990, will take place in eastern Canada. It is the ninth edition of the Games, with the three most recent ones being held in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Colorado.

Athletes are 13 to 19 years old, and represent their local province, territory or state. Each of Canada's provinces and territories are represented as well as seven American states. The Games, which include athletics, archery and lacrosse, are spread out across Toronto and the GTA, including Hamilton and the Six Nations of the Grand River.

A total of 2,424 medals will be awarded across three age categories, according to Games officials. All sporting events will have free entry for spectators and supporters.

There will also be free cultural events throughout the week that will showcase and celebrate Indigenous culture. Those events include performances by award-winning Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, a set by DJ Shub, formerly of A Tribe Called Red, and Indigenous country singer Genevieve Fisher.

The theme of the Games will be underlined by Team 88, a call by NAIG organizers and athletes to implement the 88th recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which relates to sports. This recommendation "calls upon all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth, and continued support for the North American Indigenous Games, including funding."

This copy has been corrected from a previous version which stated that DJ Shub was of A Tribe Called Quest.

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