COBOURG — The last Ontario Indigenous Summer Games took place in 2016 within Six Nations of the Grand River, with thirty-five percent of the participants from Northern Ontario.
A repeat of the success of the 2016 games was hoped to take place with the Alderville First Nation and the County Council of Cobourg, but with summer fast approaching the hopes are slim.
In September 2018, County Council approved a joint submission with the Alderville First Nation to host the 2019 Ontario Indigenous Summer Games and the applications were submitted to the Aboriginal Sport & Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO) by the deadline date of September 28, 2018. Applicants were to be advised of their success, or otherwise, by November 2018 — but notifications have not happened.
The ASWCO web site says: “The bid process is now closed, and the Ontario Indigenous Summer Games Bid Committee is currently in the process of conducting site visits and scoring communities on the bid matrix.”
Thus, the County and Alderville First Nation have withdrawn their application since the timeline to prepare is now insufficient. The cost of staging the games would have been $250,000 with $100,000 coming from the Provincial Government, some from a $125 fee paid by athletes and the rest from the County budget.
The visiting athletes and tourists openings would benefit not only the hosting first nation but also the Cobourg and Port Hope area.
This years games would have featured “300 – 500 young Indigenous athletes of all abilities, from across the province, to compete in the following sports including swimming, wrestling, 3D archery, athletics, badminton, canoeing and kayaking, rifle shooting, golfing and softball.
In withdrawing their application, County staff said in a report to the County Council at the next meeting on January, 30, that with the compressed timelines, there would be a risk of lost deposits and, or unavailable accommodation space, a problem getting organized with volunteers in the time available and the possibility of a reduced schedule of activities due to venue and sporting official availability. It was felt that a quality event can no longer be assured, hence the decision to withdraw.\
It had been hoped that the County could repeat the success of the Ontario ParaSport Games in 2014 since “county staff who led this process are either now leading the Ontario Indigenous Summer Games bid process, or have been consulted for their input.”
From a sport perspective, the OISG provides an opportunity for high-performance athlete development, athlete talent identification, and sport specific training and preparation for participation in the North American Indigenous Games.
The Games are also important for the celebration of Indigenous cultures and communities; youth from distinct communities across the province, have the opportunity to share and learn from each other, and make connections that last a lifetime. Losing the opportunity to participate this summer may be seen as a loss for all.