News & Events

NAIG Insider January Newsletter

February 7, 2017








With more than 5000 participants, 2000 volunteers and 14 sport categories, the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) is expected to be the largest sport and cultural gathering of Indigenous Peoples from across North America. 




Toronto 2017 NAIG Host Society honours the traditional lands and homelands on which the 2017 North American Indigenous Games will take place. We honour and thank the Huron-Wendat Nation, Metis Nation of Ontario, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River as our community partners and traditional inhabitants of the lands of the City of Toronto, Region of Hamilton, Durham Region and surrounding areas.

Toronto 2017 NAIG Host Society is grateful for the opportunity to gather Indigenous people from across Turtle Island in support of all participants of the Toronto 2017 NAIG.









Welcome to Team 88

From the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action, number 88 specifically calls on all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Indigenous athlete development and growth through continued support for the North American Indigenous Games.

As a legacy campaign for the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games, Team 88, will utilize the spotlight of the North American Indigenous Games to raise awareness and increase access and opportunity for indigenous youth and their communities to participate in sport and culture at all levels of performance. Team 88 recognizes the power of sport and culture as important pathways to reconciliation, creating a tangible opportunity for all Canadians to engage, support and participate.

Team 88 legacy campaign will actively promote opportunity for… 

  • Public education and the celebration of Indigenous athletes at a national level.
  • Reducing barriers to sport participation, increasing pursuit of excellence in sport, and building capacity for a more inclusive Canadian sport system.
  • Inclusive policy and program development that is relevant, addresses racism and levels the playing field.
  • Inclusion of Indigenous protocols in major games and international sporting events.

Support TRC Call to Action 88. We are all #Team88.









CBC named Premier Media Partner for the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games
Providing unprecedented access to the Toronto 2017 NAIG and reaching communities across the nation, the Toronto 2017 NAIG Host Society announced the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as Premier Media Partner to the ninth North American Indigenous Games. This historic partnership was celebrated on January 20 at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre located in downtown Toronto. To add to the significance of the event, the announcement coincided with the second round of operation meetings for mission staff of the Toronto 2017 NAIG, and featured the release of a major legacy campaign of the Games – #Team88.
A competitor at the Regina 2014 NAIG and Team Ontario hopeful for the Toronto 2017 NAIG, 15 year-old Hannah Morningstar, delivered a powerful speech speaking to the legacy of the North American Indigenous Games and the impact of sport and culture on her life, her community, and her generation. Hannah was also joined on stage by Emiigwed Shognosh from Walpole Island First Nation, as a future athlete of the North American Indigenous Games – reflecting past, present and future generations that the NAIG movement has inspired.
The media event provided a glimpse of the exhilarating energy and excitement that the North American Indigenous Games will bring to the City of Toronto and surrounding regions this coming July. The 2017 Games are expected to be the largest sport and cultural gathering of Indigenous Peoples in North America, with more than 5,200 participants expected to compete. Adding to the excitement of the event was host Duncan McCue, award winning journalist, academic and CBC reporter; and Classic Roots, who performed a stimulating fancy dance to an original techno-pow wow track produced exclusively for the event.
The media partnership between CBC and the Toronto 2017 NAIG will provide historic coverage of the Games, with unprecedented reach to communities all over Canada, across multiple platforms. Highlights of the agreement include:

  • CBC Sports will stream a minimum of 100 hours of live and on demand competition coverage.
  • CBC Radio will produce five documentaries telling the stories of the participants in 2017 NAIG who have used sport as a vehicle to overcome challenges to strive for success beyond the field of play. 
  • CBC Arts will produce a variety of digital and radio content reflecting the wealth of cultural expression during 2017 NAIG.
  • CBC News’ award-winning Indigenous Unit will cover 2017 NAIG through original journalism, story-telling and news coverage. This coverage will be distributed across all CBC/Radio-Canada platforms, including those specifically developed to reach Indigenous people.
  • CBC Sports to produce signature 2017 NAIG sport features for a variety of CBC platforms including, Twitter and Facebook.

For more information, click here. 






Toronto 2017 NAIG Mission Staff Assemble in Toronto for Second Round of Operational Meetings

With a cool 176 days to go until Games time, the mission staff of the Toronto 2017 NAIG joined staff of the Toronto 2017 NAIG Host Society for a second round of operational meetings in preparation for the fast approaching 2017 NAIG. Also known as M2, representatives, including Chef de Missions and team managers, from territories, provinces and states across Turtle Island, arrived in Toronto to engage in venue tours, operational meetings and open discussion to guide the planning and logistics for all aspects of the Games. 
Mission staff were welcomed with an honour song and hand drum procession during the CBC media announcement. The weekend also provided ample opportunity for questions to be answered on behalf of the mission staff and Host Society, ensuring a best-in-class experience for all participants of the Toronto 2017 NAIG. Venue tours included Durham College residence – as a fourth athlete village to the Games, in addition to Ajax Sportsplex (Baseball pool play), and HoopDome (Basketball pool play).










Hannah Morning star is from the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek community, located 19 kilometres west of the City of Sudbury. Hannah is bear clan and also shares strong ties to the Mississaugas First Nation. As a competitor in the Regina 2014 North American Indigenous Games, Hannah represents a past and future athlete of the NAIG. She competed this past summer in the Ontario Aboriginal Summer Games, winning gold in javelin, and is a hopeful for the Toronto 2017 NAIG Team Ontario U-16 volleyball team.

An avid athlete, Hannah has competed for her high school in volleyball, tennis, flag football, and track and field, including cross country. She has also competed in the Little NHL for her community, the Atikameksheng Eagles, and plays for the Sudbury Girls Hockey Association. Reflecting on her involvement in sport, Hannah credits the meaningful friendships, the personal challenges and the sense of a strong community that sport provides as motivation for being involved.

As a #Team88 ambassador, Hannah evokes the meaning behind the North American Indigenous Games movement, which seeks to inspire youth in building positive pathways for themselves and their communities through involvement in culture, sport and recreation.

In realizing the importance of sport and culture in building strong communities, Hannah hopes to continue to travel as a jingle dress dancer, sharing in her culture, and to one day become a coach to guide the next generation of athletes and performers. Realizing the importance of role models for youth in sport, Hannah shared some advice as a past North American Indigenous Games athlete, “You just have to choose to grow in a good way and not lose sight of your goals.”

One of the greatest moments in Hannah’s sport career has been the moment she came from the Regina 2014 NAIG with her teammates from the Atikameksheng community. They arrived back to the community in time for the traditional pow wow and received a warm welcome from the elders, children and community members who congratulated them on having competed in the North American Indigenous Games. Hannah recalled feeling an immense feeling of pride in this moment, being congratulated by her community and led into the pow wow arena with an honour song.

Hannah is also active in her culture and community –as jingle dress dancer, she was named as head youth dancer for the Atikameksheng and Mississauga First Nation pow wows this past summer. Keeping culture alive is important to Hannah, so she tries to learn as much as she can from her family and papa, Art Petahtegoose. Learning how to make split ash baskets and dedication to learning her language are both things that take time, but are well worth it to Hannah, in keeping her culture and community alive.

Sharing in her love of sport and her community, Hannah supports the strength that can come from involvement in both athletics and culture.  To Hannah, the importance of storytelling is not only important in culture - but also in sport, as stories from other Indigenous athletes help to guide the next generation and let them know that they too can make their dreams a reality.  




Emiigwed Shognosh-Diaz is an ambassador for the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games and proud supporter of #Team88. He is too young to participate in 2017 NAIG but his role as ambassador enables him to share his love for sport and his pride in being a member of the Walpole First Nations community. More importantly, Emiigwed represents the future, the next generation that will not only wear #88 on its sleeve but carry the message of Team 88 in their hearts. Being an athlete has taught Emiigwed commitment, teamwork and pride for his community, values and lessons that are just as important on the field, as they are off the field.
One of the goals of the Team 88 legacy campaign is to tell the story of Indigenous athletes at the national level, showcasing the ‘real life’ role models and community heroes that are working hard and inspiring those around them.
Emiigwed believes that role models are important because they pass down knowledge and teach younger generations what they need to succeed. Hearing Indigenous athletes’ stories makes Emiigwed proud of his community and has inspired him to work hard to achieve his goals.
The North American Indigenous Games provides a platform for Indigenous youth from across North America to work towards a dream, it provides a sense of purpose and ignites endless hope. The Games are a movement, inspiring youth to adopt healthy, active lifestyles and a pride in who they are.
Emiigwed is determined and hopeful that he will get the opportunity to participate in the next NAIG and is working towards that goal. Participation in NAIG for Emiigwed is an opportunity to develop as an athlete, to share his culture and knowledge, and to learn from other Indigenous youth he will meet during competition; Emiigwed is certain that it will be an experience that will stay with him forever.






Less than Six Months to Go!

A world-class event cannot happen without thousands of helping hands and a community of dedicated volunteers. With a variety of roles, venues and responsibilities, the Toronto 2017 NAIG volunteer team provides meaningful opportunities for all to become involved in building a legacy of brighter futures for Indigenous youth and communities across Turtle Island. Join the movement, join a community and experience the unifying power of sport and culture.


Click here to Register as a Volunteer








Toronto 2017 NAIG Community Tour

The Toronto 2017 NAIG Community Tour will celebrate the unifying power of sport and culture by linking communities across Ontario, from the northern tip to the southern shores. The tour will include stops across the Province of Ontario to bring the excitement of the upcoming Games to individual communities. The tour will also engage youth in physical literacy, wellness and nutrition awareness and the celebration of Indigenous cultural distinctiveness.

In partnership with the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario, the Toronto 2017 NAIG Community Tour will include sport activations, cultural workshops and opportunities for athlete development.

The first two stops on the Toronto 2017 NAIG Community Tour will include:

Fort Albany First Nation – February 10-12

Fort Albany First Nation is a Cree First Nation reserve in the Cochrane District in Northeastern Ontario, Canada. Situated on the southern shore of the Albany River, Fort Albany First Nation is only accessible by air or by winter road. It shares the Fort Albany 67 Indian Reserve with the Kashechewan First Nation.

Pikangikum First Nation – February 24-26

The Pikangikum First Nation is an Ojibwe First Nation located on the 1,808-hectare (4,470-acre) Pikangikum Reserve, in Unorganized Kenora District in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, approximately 100 kilometres (60 mi) north of the town of Red Lake.

A full listing of locations and dates for the Toronto 2017 NAIG Community Tour will be released in March 2017. To learn more about athlete development and sport programming offered by the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council, click here. 





Mascot Design Contest - Finalists Announced!

Thank you to all those who participated in the Toronto 2017 NAIG Mascot Design Contest! The submissions were all excellent and it was extremely hard to narrow it down to 9 finalists. The best part, according to the Toronto 2017 NAIG Host Society, was reading about each applicant, where they were from, and the story behind their submission.

The 2017 NAIG team has narrowed down the selection of over 200 submissions to 9 finalists, whose name and ages, along with their design, have been included below.

The winner will be chosen with input from the Cultural Advisory Committee, who will review the top 9 contenders.








Jensen Group

The Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games would like to recognize the tremendous work and creative input from the Jensen Group, a full service digital media company.

As the vendor of record for the 2017 NAIG, the Jensen group takes the vision of the Host Society and works to create stimulating and impactful pieces of design, that support the brand of the Toronto 2017 NAIG. Led by Peter Jensen, a member of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, the Jensen group is aboriginal owned and operated.   

You can learn more about the Jensen Group here.



Centennial College

The Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games is pleased to grant full credentials to the graduate Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Those students will be covering a majority of the sporting competition during the Games. The produced content, interviews and articles will be distributed across many platforms, offering in-depth coverage of the athletes and their achievements. This past year, the Centennial College program sent 15 students to Rio de Janeiro, as part of the CBC compliment, to cover the Paralympic Games for 16 days, and produced a daily online broadcast on the Games.







HoopDome - State of the Art Multi-Gym Becomes Additional Home for Basketball Competition of Toronto 2017 NAIG

Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games Host Society is proud to announce the addition of HoopDome as one of the venues hosting basketball competitions for the Games.
Since opening on March 30, 2007 HoopDome has become a centre for amateur basketball in Ontario. It is home to basketball athletes, families and teams of all ages and hosts various leagues and tournaments year round. Located at Downsview Park, this 42,000 square foot multi-gymnasium basketball only facility features four regulation sized basketball courts.






MACK ABBOTT - Coordinator, Events

Q: What role has sports played in your life?
A: Sports has always been an integral part of my life. I’ve played hockey and lacrosse growing up and pursued a Political Science & Sport Management Degree at Brock University. Sport is my passion.

Q: What is your favourite movie? 
A: Friday Night Lights. 

Q: What events experience do you have?
A: I was Events Coordinator at Niagara College, I organized day-to-day events like varsity games. I’ve also worked for Ontario University Athletics. I organized championships for all sports every year including the Yates Cup and Wilson Cup.

Q: What is your favourite sports team?
A: Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Q: What do you hope to accomplish at Toronto 2017 NAIG?
A: A part of my job is to collaborate with Manager of Events, Stephanie to organize the opening ceremonies. My goal is to make the opening ceremonies something to remember for participants and spectators, and set the tone for the remainder of the games. We are working hard to make it go above and beyond everyone’s expectations.




AMBERLY WARREN - Coordinator, Sport and Athlete Services


Q: What role has sports played in your life?
A: Sport has been a large part of my life, I’ve played hockey since I was three years old.

Q: What is your favourite colour?
A: ORANGE!!! (I'm obsessed)
Q: What’s your experience working in sports?
A: I have a Bachelor of Sport Management degree from the University of Brock. Since I graduated I’ve worked with Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, MasterCard Memorial Cup and St. John’s Ice Caps.
Q: What do you like about working for Toronto 2017 NAIG?
A: I love the relationship between the staff members, they’re like family. I also like that it’s a multi-sport event with a cultural aspect, it makes the Games unique.
Q: What is your favourite movie?
A: Tough question... I watch a lot of movies, but my all-time favourite would probably be Mighty Ducks or Sandlot, I watched them on repeat as a child.




CHRISTINE WONG - Coordinator, Volunteers


Q: What role has sports played in your life?
A: Sports played a huge role in my life. I’m willing to try any sport and have played soccer and lacrosse. I truly believe in sport for development. Sport instills values like strong work ethic and you learn how to socialize. Being a part of a team is a great learning experience.

Q: What is your favourite sports team?
A: I love everything Toronto! Toronto Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Raptors, Argos, The Rock and TFC. 
Q: Why do you volunteer?
A: It’s fun! I like giving back to the community and contributing to great causes. I always have great experiences that I’ll never forget. I’ve volunteered at the World Juniors Championship, Terry Fox Run (he’s my idle), Short Track Speed Skating Championship, Antigua Track Club and Right to Play.

Q: What is your favourite movie? 
A: My favourite movie series is The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. 
Q: Why did you join Toronto 2017 NAIG?

A: Working for Toronto 2017 NAIG combines two of my passions: love for sport and respect for indigenous culture. I’m happy the Games are in my hometown and I’m excited to deliver world class games to them. The Games provides the unique opportunity to experience sport and indigenous culture.






NAIG CULTURE – Honouring the Past

In honouring past, present and future generations of athletes from across Turtle Island, we recognize a notable athlete who has worked to inspire a generation of athletes after him – Olympian, Billy Mills. Billy Mills is from the Ogala Lakota community (Sioux), and was born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota in 1938. Running became an outlet for Billy to channel his energy into, helping to cope with growing up in poverty and being orphaned at the age of 12. Billy Mills became more engaged in running during high school, setting numerous records during his career and earning a track scholarship from the University of Kansas.

A defining moment of Billy Mills career was the 1964 Olympics where he set a world record of 28 minutes and 24.4 seconds in a surprise gold medal win in the 10K track event. Mills currently remains the only American to ever win a gold medal in the 10K Olympic track event.

Among Mills accomplishments, he was named NCAA All American cross-country runner three times in 1960, was inducted into the United States National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1976, and was honoured as a former Olympian by joining a select group in carrying the Olympic flag into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the Opening Ceremony of the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics.

Mills is a leader and inspiration to a generation of Indigenous athletes – inspiring those from all backgrounds and circumstances to dream big and take action in making their dreams a reality. Billy Mills accredits a large part of his victory to having envisioned his win during the 1964 10K Olympic track event. By envisioning success he made his dreams a reality and has continued to inspire others to do the same. 



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