By TRT Staff with notes from ISWO.ca
MISSISSAUGA – On August 12, 2022, Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) named national kayak champion Keir Johnston as Chef de Mission and ISWO Board Member Laura Suthers as Deputy Chef de Mission to lead Team Ontario at NAIG 2023.
Keir Johnston, a member of Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, is a former National Development athlete and has competed on the international stage for Canada in the sport of canoe/kayak. His passion for sport started at a young age, and his journey has continued, contending in many competitive sports throughout his life.
Keir’s involvement in NAIG started in 2002 in Winnipeg, watching his sister compete and win medals in swimming and observing his mother serve as a coach. He then competed in canoe/kayak at NAIG 2006 in Denver. During NAIG 2017, he served as the sport manager and coach for Team Ontario’s canoe/kayak entry. Keir has been part of the Indigenous sport pathway in many capacities and disciplines; as an athlete, coach, and organizer and has served as the former high-performance manager at ISWO. His experiences have given him a deep understanding of the life-changing effects the NAIG offers and its positive impacts on Indigenous youth.
The North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) are a multi-sport, multi-disciplinary event for Indigenous youth, between the ages of 13 and 19, from across North America (Turtle Island). The Games will bring together 756 Indigenous Nations, and approximately 5,000 athletes, to celebrate, share and reconnect through sport and culture in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Dartmouth and Millbrook First Nation. The Games will offer 16 contemporary sports competitions, three of which are traditional Indigenous sports, including box lacrosse, 3D archery and canoe/kayaking.
The last edition of the NAIG was hosted in Toronto in 2017, by ISWO, who had only one year and a small group of dedicated staff to deliver an event the size of the Vancouver Olympics. It was an enormous undertaking by ISWO, who also organized, managed and fielded a team comprised of more than 550 athletes, team managers and coaches.
ISWO will be hosting tryouts across the province of Ontario for all NAIG sports throughout the year and into 2023. A full schedule of Team Ontario tryouts, along with additional information about the selection process for Team Ontario coaches and team managers, will be released in the coming weeks.