On July 31, OUTniagara announced its withdrawal of support from the Canada Summer Games in solidarity with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN).
This move comes after the MCFN’s withdrawal in the early weeks of July. Three days after the Niagara 2022 Host Society named the presenting sponsors of Indigenous programming for the Games, the MCFN withdrew all affiliation with and support for the competition set to take place across Niagara this month.
The organizers of the Games created an Indigenous Partnership Council with members of Niagara’s Indigenous communities, including the MCFN, to offer advice on all Indigenous matters related to the Games. This year is also the first time in 37 years lacrosse, a Haudenosaunee sport, will be included in the event.
But Games organizers hired a consultant to create a memorandum of understanding instead of communicating directly with First Nations communities. Later, in the statement posted to the MCFN website on July 11, the nation was unable to “see a clear path forward with regards to the Canada Summer Games.”
“MCFN have, over the course of many years, acquired a mutually respectful relationship with the federal government based upon our Treaty Relationship. We have had many challenges and we have managed to move ahead,” reads the statement.
“In this time of reconciliation, we did not agree with the signing of an MOU [memorandum of understanding] with a consultant to coordinate the Indigenous programming of the Games, as we believe signing an agreement with First Nations communities directly would have been more meaningful and respectful.”
The statement closes with a paragraph citing experience of “disrespect,” and “lateral violence,” which extended beyond MCFN staff to attending youth that were invited to participate, and best wishes to the athletes competing in the Games.
It was later noted that the Canada Summer Games offered to fix concerns brought forward by the MCFN, but the impact had already been made and no offers to reconcile have been accepted.
As for the OUTniagara’s withdrawal in support of the MCFN, co-chairs of the organization stressed that the decision to withdraw support from the Canada Summer Games is OUTniagara’s alone, no expectation that other Niagara 2SLGBTQQIA+ organizations step back from the Games stands.
It was noted in a statement on the OUTniagara’s website, that the organizations mission is to support and advocate for organization partners, particularly people who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour, and that one of OUTniagara’s major tenets is to stand in solidarity with others who are still subjugated to injustice at the hands of colonial systems. The organization holds the responsibility of calling out such offences and act accordingly to continue to uphold our values as an organization.
The Canada Summer Games begin Saturday, Aug. 6, and end Sunday, Aug. 21 in the Niagara region.