Legacy of successful Toronto Games leads to the development of Masters Indigenous Games and a bid for 2020 NAIG

Toronto, ON – February 14, 2018 – The Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games (Toronto 2017 NAIG) may have come to a close last summer, but the inspiring legacy of the largest Indigenous sport and cultural gathering in North America has left a lasting impact. This July, the Masters Indigenous Games 2018 will welcome athletes and cultural performers from around the world.

As a direct legacy of the Toronto 2017 NAIG, the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO) will be hosting the inaugural Masters Indigenous Games (MIG), July 12-15, 2018. The Masters Indigenous Games were founded to meet a growing need for competitive sport for the aging population. The four day event will feature both contemporary and traditional sports, in addition to an opening gala, NAIG reunion events, cultural festival and competitive powwow. The MIG 2018 is open to Indigenous Peoples from around the world.

“The Masters Indigenous Games (MIG) builds on the legacy of the North American Indigenous Games movement, by providing a platform for the continued celebration of Indigenous sport achievement and cultural heritage,” said Marc Laliberte, President of ASWCO. “The MIG fills a critical gap in the sport pathway for Indigenous adults and provides an opportunity to showcase the abilities and accomplishments of Indigenous Peoples from around the world. As we have seen with the 2017 NAIG, sport has the power to inspire and unite, like nothing else.”

The Success of Toronto 2017 NAIG and #Team88

The Toronto 2017 NAIG was a unique set of Games, with ASWCO submitting a last-minute bid to host the Games when no other bids came forward, essentially saving the NAIG movement.

Despite the limitations of time, staff and budget, the Toronto 2017 NAIG broke records as one of the highest generating tourism events hosted in the City of Toronto last year, with the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance reporting a National Industrial Output of more than $44.3 million through its STEAM PRO 2.0 Economic Impact Study. Aside from the staggering contributions the multi-sport and cultural event had on the tourism sector, the 2017 Games also generated a substantial legacy fund, which will be used to increase sport and wellness programming, services and equipment for Indigenous youth and communities across the province of Ontario.

Over the course of the successful week of competition, Cultural Festivals, and unprecedented media coverage which included 100 hours of live streaming through Toronto 2017 NAIG premier media partner CBC/Radio Canada, Indigenous youth from across North America took the spotlight in the celebration of sport and Indigenous cultural distinctiveness.

The Toronto 2017 NAIG also witnessed unprecedented media coverage, with a 300% increase compared to previous Games, providing a unique platform to celebrate the inspiring stories of Indigenous athletes from across Turtle Island, while challenging the stereotypical narrative portrayed in Indigenous coverage. The CBC announced the Toronto 2017 NAIG as one of its top five Indigenous news stories of 2017, with the live stream of the Opening Ceremony reported as the single most watched stream on CBC Sports in a three month period, outside of hockey. Rick Brant, President of NAIG Council, declared the Toronto 2017 NAIG as the “Best NAIG ever and a new benchmark for the NAIG movement,” during his remarks at the Toronto 2017 NAIG Closing Ceremony.

As the far-reaching impact of the Toronto 2017 NAIG continues to set in, it is perhaps the ground-breaking Toronto 2017 NAIG Team 88 legacy campaign that will leave the biggest imprint on the NAIG movement.

Team 88 is a celebration of Indigenous youth success, inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Call to Action #88 which calls on all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Indigenous athlete development and growth through continued support of the North American Indigenous Games.

With the Games held in Canada’s media epicentre for the first time in history, the vision of Team 88 was carried out through the outstanding stories told by esteemed media outlets which in addition to CBC/Radio Canada also included, the Weather Network, the Toronto Star, Hamilton Spectator, APTN and Nation Talk. Through the unforgettable profiles of athletes, coaches and other prominent voices involved in the Games, important conversations around reconciliation were brought to the forefront of Canadian consciousness.

“I think Team 88 is the ultimate legacy for us to be able to initiate a dialogue on reconciliation through the power of sport,” said Toronto 2017 NAIG General Manager Michael Cvitkovic. “To be able to open up the eyes of many Canadians who might have heard a little bit about the TRC just in passing and now through these Games in the media capital of Canada. I think the hope for Team 88 is that it moves forward, and that NAIG council and the Aboriginal Sports Circle use it as a calling card for future initiatives.”

Toronto 2017 NAIG CEO Marcia Trudeau-Bomberry, an Anishinaabe-kwe from Wikwemikong First Nation who played varsity lacrosse at Brock University, says the legacy of Team 88 goes far beyond the playing field and highlights the power of sport to change and affect peoples lives.

“Team 88 is about putting the spotlight on Indigenous athletes to showcase their abilities and achievements, not only on the sporting field or in the pool or on the court, but in other realms,” said Trudeau-Bomberry. “The stories that were told were not just about athletic ability but about how an athlete’s community, culture and leadership skills contribute to their success and shape them as individuals.”

With ASWCO recently announcing its bid to host the 2020 NAIG, in partnership with the City of Ottawa and Pikwakanagan First Nation, in addition to hosting the inaugural Masters Indigenous Games this summer, the legacy of the Toronto 2017 NAIG lives on. Building on the successes of 2017, ASWCO is hopeful to take Team 88 to the hill, in celebrating the 10th edition and 30th anniversary of the North American Indigenous Games.

Toronto 2017 NAIG Quick Facts

From July 16-23, 2017, the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games (Toronto 2017 NAIG) hosted more than 5,000 participants, and thousands of spectators for 14 sport competitions held within world-class venues located across the Greater Toronto Area, including the Region of Hamilton and Six Nations of the Grand River.

Equally important, Toronto 2017 NAIG hosted two successful week-long cultural festivals open to the public, showcasing a variety of Indigenous artists, traditional learning, vendors, food, cultural performances and nightly entertainment.

Participating teams represented all 13 provinces and territories of Canada, as well as 13 regions from the United States.

Close to 1,200 volunteers helped to make the event a great success.

The Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario, each committed $3.5 million dollars to help fund the 2017 Games, in recognition of the NAIG as an important agent in promoting Indigenous sport development and recreation in Canada.

The Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO) is the official Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sporting Body (P/TASB) for Ontario and serves all 133 First Nations, in addition to Inuit and Metis Peoples, living both on and off reserve, in urban and rural settings.

The Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO), in collaboration with the City of Toronto and Government of Ontario, won the bid to host 2017 NAIG.

ASWCO will be hosting the inaugural Masters Indigenous Games (MIG), from July 12-15 in Toronto, ON. Learn more at www.mastersindigenousgames.ca.

The Masters Indigenous Games will take place every two years, in communities and municipalities across the province of Ontario.


Toronto 2017 NAIG Host Society honours the traditional lands and homelands on which the 2017 North American Indigenous Games will take place. We honour and thank the Huron-Wendat Nation, Metis Nation of Ontario, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River as our community partners and traditional inhabitants of the lands of the City of Toronto, Region of Hamilton, Durham Region and surrounding areas.

Contact Information:
Abidah Shirazi
Director, Marketing and Communications
Toronto 2017 NAIG Host Society