Halifax vying to host North American Indigenous Games in 2020

Mattea Bernard, 13, demonstrates archery to the NAIG selection team in Millbrook, N.S./Photo by Stephen Brake

Members of a Nova Scotia committee hoping to bring the North American Indigenous Games to Halifax in 2020 got a chance this week to show the selection team what the city can offer if chosen.

“Our bid is so much stronger than our bid in 2014,” said Gordon Pictou, who sits on the Halifax 2020 NAIG committee.

“The working relationships between Aboriginal Sports Circle of the province and the city are amazing and the (NAIG) delegates made comments to that a number of times.”

The Halifax 2020 NAIG bid committee consists of representatives from the Nova Scotia Department of Community, Culture and Heritage, Destination Halifax, Sport Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University, Halifax Regional Municipality and the Mi’kmaw Sport Circle of Nova Scotia.

If Halifax is chosen to host NAIG in 2020, it will be the first time the games will be held east of Toronto.

NAIG officials visited Millbrook First Nation on Wednesday. It was the final stop on the group’s three-day tour of the proposed venues included in the Halifax bid.

When contacted via email, Rick Brant, president of the North American Indigenous Games Council, declined to comment about the selection team’s visit to Halifax.

NAIG selection team in Millbrook First Nation, N.S./Photo by Stephen Brake

Halifax is competing with Ottawa and Vancouver to host the upcoming games in 2020. If chosen, Millbrook First Nation would be the proposed venue for 3D archery, a subset of field archery focusing on shooting at life-size models of game. Millbrook is located about an hour’s drive outside of Halifax.

“(Archery) is very significant and important to our communities and the people in our communities,” said Tex Marshall, the Aboriginal Sports Consultant with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey who also sits on the Halifax bid committee.

“The fact that it is in the North American Indigenous Games is very significant for us in development and building opportunities for our youth in the sport,” Marshall said.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said the opportunity to host 4,500 Indigenous athletes and their families “would be a wonderful thing for our community.

Archery competitor “excited” about Halifax’s 2020 NAIG bid

Mattea Bernard of Millbrook took the day off school Wednesday to show the NAIG delegation the community’s archery course. She said she has been competing in archery since 2016.

“I am very excited,” the thirteen-year-old said about Halifax bid.

Bernard says sporting events like archery are important for her and other youth in her community.

“It gives me something to do other than sitting at home or school,” Bernard said.

Pictou, who attended 2017 NAIG in Toronto, said the close proximity of Millbrook First Nation to Halifax and the walkability of the city, “will provide a much more opportunity for athletes to meet, creating stronger unity between athletes.”

“Our athletes have always had to travel a really long distance,” Pictou said. “Most of them, their parents and families really haven’t been able to be part of it,” he added.

‘That’s what I am most excited about bringing it to Millbrook,” Pictou said. “So many of our families (will) have an opportunity to take part in the games in person and take part in the spirit of welcoming,” he explained.

According to Marshall, the bid proposes to have a cultural village set up in the Halifax Commons. Other proposed sport venues include the Scotiabank Centre, Saint Mary’s University, Dalhousie University, the BMO Soccer Centre and Beazley Field and Lake Banook. Lacrosse games would take place in Lower Sackville.

Marshall said NAIG officials will announce the host city for the 2020 games on May 3.

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About Karli Zschogner 8 Articles
Karli Zschogner is a graduate of the one-year journalism program at the University of King's College in Halifax, N.S. She was an intern with Ku'ku'kwes News in April 2018.