The Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games officially began with an Opening Ceremony where athletes were told "you are the answer to a prayer from seven generations ago.” Thousands packed the outdoor ceremony which featured a performance by Taboo from the world famous Black Eyed Peas, traditional singers and hoop dancers, and a dazzling fireworks display. However, the highlight of the ceremony was the parade of Indigenous athletes, representing all 13 provinces and territories of Canada and 13 regions from the United States.
“These athletes are an inspiration,” said National President Jerry Dias. “Their dedication and passion is the spark to ignite a fire within all of us to reach our dreams and achieve greatness."
Unifor is a proud Presenting Partner of the Games which provide Indigenous youth, aged 13-19, with the opportunity to showcase their athletic abilities in 14 sport categories. The sporting competitions take place July 16-23 at world-class venues located across the Greater Toronto Area.
The theme of the Games is Team 88, which references the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 88th call to action directing Canada to support Indigenous sports.
“We must recognize the history of colonialism and acknowledge the cultural genocide against Indigenous people before we can move forward and push for change,” said Dias. "Team 88 is about using the power of sport to elevate us physically, mentally and spiritually so that together we can build a better future. Today we are all Team 88.” said Dias.
The Games also include a Cultural Festival, sponsored by Unifor, from July 17-22 at York and McMaster Universities. The Festival celebrates Indigenous heritage with traditional music and food, art exhibits and a marketplace.
“This is an amazing opportunity for Unifor to help showcase Indigenous culture to the wider community,” said Deb Tveit, Assistant to the National President. “Members at Unifor booths at the festival locations were also able to tell people about the work that our union has done to promote equality and to share our call for justice and reconciliation for Indigenous people.”
More than 70 Unifor members from across the country volunteered at sporting events and the Cultural Festival to help make the games a success.