Ottawa launches new indigenous sports initiative

OTTAWA — Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario and the City of Ottawa, along with Ottawa Tourism, have reached an exclusive multi-year agreement prioritizing Indigenous wellness through sport, leadership and community development. The landmark initiative was reached in partnership and consultation with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, Kitigan Zibi First Nation, the Algonquin Nation, the Métis Nation of Ontario, the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne, Tungasuvvingat Inuit and the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition, who have a well-established relationship with ISWO, as a result of recent collaboration on a bid for the 2020 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).

“Although we lost the bid to host the 2020 NAIG, the collaborative work we did in preparing for the bid, the dialogue with Indigenous community partners, local organizations, post-secondary institutions, the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism, has resulted in an unprecedented and historic agreement, increasing sport and wellness opportunities for Indigenous Peoples in the Ottawa region and across Ontario,” said Marc Laliberte, President, Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario. “I would like to acknowledge and congratulate the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism on their commendable leadership and commitment to actively participating in reconciliation.”

The agreement would see Ottawa host the 2021 Ontario Indigenous Summer Games and the 2021 and 2023 Masters Indigenous Games. The agreement however, goes well beyond major sporting events and Games. The partnership also outlines support for ISWO’s youth leadership program, ‘Standing Bear’ and the Urban Indigenous Sport Strategy, in addition to the full gamut of ISWO events, camps, programs and workshops.

“Ottawa Tourism is excited to welcome the Ontario Indigenous Summer Games in 2021 and the Masters Indigenous Games in 2021 and 2023 to Ottawa. These events are an important opportunity to celebrate and to learn about Indigenous culture, as well as an opportunity for Indigenous people from around the world to discover the warm hospitality of our region, which has been the traditional territory of the Algonquin people for over ten thousand years,” said Michael Crockatt, President and CEO, Ottawa Tourism.

The City of Ottawa says it is build relationships with the surrounding Algonquin communities — Pikwaknagan and Kitigan Zibi – as well as with all First Nation, Métis and Inuit Peoples living in the Ottawa area. In February 2018, Ottawa City Council approved an action plan to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation. This, the city says, is all important steps in continuing the City of Ottawa and the Indigenous community’s joint journey towards reconciliation.

“We recognize and respect the cultural diversity that First Nations, Inuit and Métis people bring to the City of Ottawa,” said Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa. “We are excited to have been selected by ISWO to help develop the Urban Indigenous Sport Strategy, as well as to host these prestigious Games over the next few years, which will act as a catalyst for reconciliation in our community.”

“For us as Indigenous Peoples, sport is a way of life, it is embedded in our traditions and is medicine for our mind, body and spirit,” said Chief Kirby Whiteduck, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation. “This agreement will bring more opportunities to our youth and our communities, while giving hope, inspiring the next generation and celebrating who we are and the history of our Peoples. We look forward to welcoming youth and athletes, not only from across Ontario, but from around the world, to our land, the ancestral territory of the Algonquin, a gathering place for Indigenous peoples for millennia.”

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