From small beginnings, ASWCO has delivered historic results.

Mississauga, ON – December 21, 2017 – As 2017 comes to a close, the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO) reflects and gives thanks on a remarkable year of achievement, celebration and unity.

From humble beginnings, with only two staff members and a yearly budget of $200,000 just three years ago, ASWCO has grown into an effective provincial body, with regional delivery systems, tailored programming, a culturally based framework, competitive and recreational sport opportunities, and leadership development for Indigenous youth and communities across Ontario.

ASWCO has made impressive progress over the past three years serving as the lead Indigenous organization delivering the landmark Sport Pathways for Ontario Native Wellness initiative, with support from the Government of Ontario. Just to highlight a few of its achievements, ASWCO successfully implemented multi-sport, cultural and leadership camps for youth, various tournaments and coaching certifications, and hosted the National Aboriginal Physical Activity and Wellness Conference in Ontario. Additionally, ASWCO led the successful bid to host the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), which both saved the NAIG movement and resulted in the most successful event to date.

ASWCO believes that sport has the power to change lives, improve wellness, promote culture and provide opportunities for personal growth and community development, but knows that it cannot do it alone.
“Indigenous Peoples and communities across Ontario face many challenges, however together, we can find solutions that are sustainable, empowering and community driven. Unity, hope and perseverance are the keys to success and we need to role-model this for our youth and future generations. Sport provides a unique platform to build these attributes in our People.” said Marc Laliberte, President, ASWCO.

Although ASWCO has evolved significantly and grown tremendously, its mandate remains unchanged: deliver programs and opportunities, based on sport and wellness, for Indigenous youth and communities across Ontario that make a positive impact on people’s lives. ASWCO is primarily funded by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and works to serve all Indigenous Peoples and communities, including First Nation, Inuit and Metis, across the province of Ontario. It is the designated Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sporting Body for Ontario (P/TASB) serving more than 133 Indigenous communities and 29 friendship centres, encompassing more than 300,000 Indigenous Peoples across the province.

Now a robust organization with more than 15 staff members, ASWCO plans, delivers and supports dozens of programs, tournaments, workshops, and events for Indigenous youth across Ontario each year. ASWCO credits its growth and success to four key developments:

– Demonstrated true organizational reconciliation through the building of a diversified and talented staff of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals.
– Expanded program offerings from serving 10-19 year old youths through sport programs and related services, to an organization that now serves all ages through sport, recreation, leadership and wellness programs, within an Indigenous cultural framework.
– Expanded the scope and reach of ASWCO from three regions to six regions, with the hiring of five Indigenous regional staff members, to conduct community development activities and serve as regional representatives.
– Built collaborative relationships with diverse communities across Ontario, earning trust and identifying community-driven solutions.

Highlights from 2017:

– Hosted a series of multi-sport and cultural camps in 18 communities across Ontario.
– Spearheaded the development of an Indigenous High Performance strategy, in partnership with post-secondary institutions and Provincial Sporting Organizations.
– Held over 60 separate tryouts for Aboriginal Team Ontario (to compete at Toronto 2017 NAIG), attended by over 1,400 athletes.
– Selected a team of 550 participants to compete at the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games; Aboriginal Team Ontario finished third with 136 medals.
– Successfully hosted the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games for more than 5,000 Indigenous participants from across Turtle Island.
– Hosted the National Aboriginal Physical Activity and Wellness Conference (NAPAWC) from May 10-12, the nation’s largest conference on physical activity and wellness for First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.
– Planned and hosted two Winter Festivals in remote northern communities (Fort Albany and Pikangikum), with over 300 youth in attendance, from 14 different northern Indigenous communities.
– Held the Ontario Native Basketball Invitational, which brought 25 teams, including an adult division, to Sault Ste. Marie to compete.
– Held the Ontario Native Volleyball Invitational in Sault Ste. Marie, with over 190 athletes representing teams from across Ontario and one team from New Brunswick.
– Developed a Youth Leadership and Mental Health Program, with over 550 youth participants.
– Brought an Ontario team to Cowichan, BC to compete at the 2017 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship. The Ontario Boys Team finished in second place, with the Ontario Girls team finishing in fifth place (out of 8).

ASWCO Quick Facts:
– From July 19-21, 2016 ASWCO hosted the inaugural Ontario Aboriginal Summer Games in the Six Nations of the Grand River and Brantford communities, where 220 youth between the ages of 12-18 (thirty-five percent of those youth were from the Far North), participated in competitive sport and cultural activities.
– The Ontario Aboriginal Summer Games takes place every three years, in various communities and municipalities across Ontario.
– 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 Toronto 2017 NAIG.
– Net proceeds from Toronto 2017 NAIG were directed to a Legacy Fund, aimed at increasing sport, health and wellness programming, services and equipment to Indigenous
youth, across the province of Ontario.
– ASWCO will be hosting the inaugural Masters Indigenous Games (MIG), from July 12-15 in Toronto, ON. The MIG 2018 will feature both contemporary and traditional sports, a cultural village and powwow, with more than 2000 Indigenous participants expected from around the world. Learn more at www.mastersindigenousgames.ca.

ASWCO honours the traditional lands and homelands of all Indigenous Peoples and communities across the province of Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Metis living both on and off reserve, in rural and urban communities.

Contact Information:
Abidah Shirazi
Senior Advisor, Communications and Media Relations

Funded by:
Government of Ontario
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport