The best Indigenous athletes on the continent may soon be headed for Greater Victoria. The region, along with the Songhees First Nation, is bidding to host the 2020 North American Indigenous Games that would bring in around 5,000 athletes.
“Bringing the North American Indigenous Games to Greater Victoria in 2020 will not only be a defining showcase of athleticism and culture, it will be a significant economic generator for the entire region,” said Songhees Nation chief Ron Sam. “We already work well together across the region. The Games will strengthen collaborative relationships, and we’ll have fun doing this together.”
The capital region is bidding against other Canadian cities including Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax. Victoria’s bid package is due March 15 and there must be a 70 per cent funding commitment. The province and federal government have already committed $3.5 million each to cover that cost if Victoria wins the right to host. The bid itself will cost about $10,000.
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The games are hosted every third July for Indigenous athletes between the ages of 14 and 19. Youth from across North America will participate in sports including lacrosse, archery, badminton, and volleyball. Toronto hosted the games in 2017 and saw a big boost for the economy.
“Toronto hosted in 2017 and over 4,400 delegates attended. Their economic impact study indicates that this event generated more than $18 million in the Greater Toronto area,” said SPORTHOST CEO Hugh McDonald. “The Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission looks forward to supporting the leadership and success of the Songhees Nation and their partners.”