McMaster campus welcomes North American Indigenous Games

By Sarah Janes, July 12, 2017

Beginning Friday, July 14 McMaster University will be transformed into the site of the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Athlete’s Village and Cultural Festival.

The Games provide Indigenous youth, aged 13-19, the opportunity to showcase their athletic achievements and cultural heritage in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, and surrounding regions, under the significant international spotlight.

Host society members, mission staff, officials, and more than 2,180 athletes will be housed on McMaster’s campus for the duration of the Games until July 23.

"The Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games are an important opportunity for Southern Ontario to play host to high performing Indigenous athletes and to highlight their achievements and rich cultures," said Patrick Deane, McMaster's President. “McMaster University is proud to welcome both athletes and guests for this significant competition.”

Four out of the 14 sports will be played in the city of Hamilton including soccer at Ron Joyce Stadium. In total there are more than 5,000 athletes and 2,000 volunteers  representing 26 regions across North America.

“The creation of a western hub for the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games offers an exciting opportunity for celebration, collaboration and strength in unity across communities,” said Marcia Trudeau, CEO, Toronto 2017 NAIG Host Society. “This is the essence of the Games and we look forward to exposing our athlete’s to McMaster and the city of Hamilton.”

The Cultural Festival, taking place on JHE field, will feature vendors, sponsor booths, institution booths, food vendors, daily activities from 1-3 p.m. and evening performances. On July 20, at JHE field, there will be an evening medal presentation for the Archery competition. Soccer competitors will receive their medals on July 21 and 22 at Ron Joyce Stadium.

McMaster’s Indigenous Student Services office, located in the new L.R. Wilson Hall, will host a ceremonial fire in their outdoor courtyard that will burn for the duration of the event. It represents the spirit of the Games and the coming together of the many NAIG participants.

The grounds and custodial staff from Facility Services have planted new white pine trees around the Indigenous garden and created and planted floral tributes in support of Team 88 around campus. "88" refers to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action #88 calling on all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Indigenous athlete development and growth through continued support of the North American Indigenous Games.

On July 14 Ron Joyce Stadium will be holding a Field Day event for Six Nations Indigenous Youth. They will be able to participate in sports, meet Indigenous athletes and student athletes, converse with current and former Tiger Cats, and have their photo taken with the Grey Cup.

Other activities around campus include planetarium screenings of The Celestial Bear: The Six Nations’ Night Sky twice a day, McMaster Museum of Art is hosting an Indigenous ‘Coyote School’ exhibit, and documentary screenings and panel discussion from July 18-20 taking place at Indigenous Gathering Space.

CBC will be live streaming 100 hours of the Games, including soccer gold medal matches Friday and Saturday.