It’s being billed as the largest ever multi-sport and cultural event to take place in Atlantic Canada.
Organizers say the 2020 North American Indigenous Games will be the biggest event to hit the East Coast with more than 5,000 athletes from across Canada and the USA set to compete in 17 different sports. Those will include lacrosse, canoeing, kayaking, rifle shooting and basketball.
“There will be friends made, there will be games played and culture shared,” said 2020 North American Indigenous Games president George “Tex” Marshall during a ceremony held at Halifax City Hall on Wednesday.
The Indigenous Games are held every two years and were previously held in Toronto in 2017. This mark the first time the games will be played on traditional Mi’kmaw territory.
A specialized logo was unveiled for the 2020 Games that drew inspiration from the ancient Mi’kmaq petroglyphs discovered across Nova Scotia which portrays three figures in a canoe representing the First Nation Peoples, including the Inuit, First Nations, and Metis.
With the games being just over a year away, organizers were trying to rally support from the community, and with more than 100 people in attendance for the ceremony, there was a feeling of excitement that was building inside city hall.
“All of our games that we play, from every nation across North America and we’ll even say across the world, brings people together and creates new energy and creates new friendships,” said North American Indigenous Games CEO Kevin Sandy.
“These games embody the spirit of our people. It’s about culture, it’s about way of life and it’s about song and dance and people expressing themselves.”
Organizers confirmed the eight-day tournament will be the largest multi-sport and cultural ever held in Halifax, topping the 2011 Canada Winter Games held in Halifax and the Canada Summer Games held in Halifax and Dartmouth in 1969.
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Organizers want everyone to get involved, from community members to fans and volunteers. As they say, it’s more than just sports that will be on display.
“The most important thing is to get people to experience our culture, to get to know more about our people in a positive,” said Chief Morely Googoo, who competed in the NAIG twice as an athlete. “Halifax 2020 is going to be such an amazing experience for everyone and I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
The games will have a significant economic impact on the community, as organizers estimated the previous games held in Toronto in 2017 injected $44 million into the local economy. It’s expected the games will also make a cultural impact.
“This truly is a phenomenal undertaking,” said Leo Glavine, minister of communities, culture and heritage.
“But what it will do for us is a legacy piece on many levels that we will all remember for a long time.”
The 2020 North America Indigenous Games will run from July 8th until the 19th.