Summer North American Indigenous Games saw positive impacts, hosts reflect

A woman in a blue jacket puts medal over young woman's head who is dressed in hockey equipment and an orange jersey.
The North American Indigenous Games took place in Atlantic Canada for the first time back in July. Photo from NAIG Facebook page.
Haeley DiRisio - CKDU - HalifaxNS | 10-12-2023
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The Nova Scotia Community Services Committee received an update on Tuesday on the positive impacts the province saw from hosting the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in July.

Fiona Kirkpatrick Parsons, chair of the NAIG Host Society, said the mission for the games was to bring Indigenous Peoples from across Turtle Island together and celebrate the culture.

The 10th NAIG happened in Halifax, Kjipuktuk, this summer where Indigenous Peoples from across North America competed in 16 different sports. Around 5,000 athletes came to Halifax to compete. 

“There was a special vibrancy in the air,” Kirkpatrick Parsons said. “There was something that happened that was unique, that Halifax has never seen before.”

NAIG was held for the first time in the East Coast and gave the opportunity for Indigenous Peoples to learn about other Indigenous cultures, Brendon Smithson, CEO of NAIG Host Society, said. 

“That sharing of culture is not just about sharing culture within the Nations but also with non-Indigenous people,” Kirkpatrick Parsons said.

The 2023 games included beach volleyball, had smudging stations and used Mi’kmaw language on signage for the first time since they began in 1990. Another first for the games was having a prime minister in attendance: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the games with his son.

“I think it was a sign to us that there was reconciliation in action,” Kirkpatrick Parsons said.

NAIG saw positive impacts on the environment by using water stations and having athletes stay close to their sports venues allowing over 2,000 of them to walk to the competition, Smithson said. 

The economic report on the impact of NAIG is set to be finished by next week.

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