Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and the City of Kamloops hosted four delegates from the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) on the weekend, with Premier David Eby making an appearance in their final day in the area.
From Friday, April 21, to Sunday, April 23, NAIG delegates from Eastern Canada and the United States came to assess and evaluate Tk̓emlúps/Kamloops sport and cultural facilities and hosting capacity.
Tk’emlúps/Kamloops is up against Calgary for the right to host the 2027 Games, which will feature more than 6,000 participants from 756 Indigenous Nations in Canada and the United States, ages 13 to 19, competing in 16 sports over an eight-day period. Tk’emlúps/Kamloops is the lone Indigenous-led bid.
NAIG delegates were welcomed by Tk̓emlúps chief and council, City of Kamloops mayor and councillors, and a delegation of 50-plus bid committee and community members at the airport when delegates arrived.
Tk’emlúps Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir led a tour that brought NAIG delegates to various venues on the weekend, including local schools, Thompson Rivers University, Shumway Lake, McArthur Island, Tournament Capital Ranch, Rocky Mountain Rangers Armoury, Tk’emlúps Powwow Grounds and the Kamloops Target Sports Association range.
A reception was held on Saturday at the TCC, with speeches from various politicians and dignitaries, followed by a demonstration in the TCC fieldhouse of traditional NAIG events, led by Buzz Manuel, Jr., a member of the Pacific Sport Interior BC board.
At the reception, Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson offered a verbal joust toward Kamloops-Tk’emlúps’ Alberta competitor for the Games.
“I just want to say I’ve been to Calgary in July when it snowed,” he quipped as he addressed the four NAIG delegates, his comment eliciting a roar of laughter.
At the TCC, NAIG delegate Virgil Morgan of the Southern Ute tribe of Colorado told KTW he was duly impressed during his visit to Kamloops, which included a discussion on Saturday with Nancy Greene-Raine.
Morgan was even more impressed when told he had just spoken to Canada’s female athlete of the 20th century.
When asked about his impression of Tk’emlúps/Kamloops, Morgan said the sports facilities were impressive, while he lauded the area’s beauty.
“We received photos and video, but they really don’t do it justice when you visit,” he said, noting he was most taken aback by the mountains and hillls, noting his home reservation in southern Colorado is also surrounded by peaks.
The NAIG delegates visited Calgary before arriving in Kamloops and Morgan said the two locales have many positives, but are different bids from different-sized communities, with the southern Alberta city reminding him of Denver.
On Saturday at the Tk’emlúps Moccasin Square Garden, the local Games bid got a powerful political boost with the appearance of B.C. Premier David Eby and Tourism Minister Lana Popham, both of whom teamed up with Tk’emlúps council for a basketball game against the Sk’elep School of Excellence.
“We at Tk̓emlúps appreciate the partnership and support of the City of Kamloops, the province, the chiefs of B.C. and our community,” Casimir said on behalf of Tk̓emlúps and the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, for which she is tribal chief. “It was our intention to showcase to our four NAIG representatives that we not only had the capacity to host an amazing sporting event, but we had the support of community, Indigenous leaders and government on every level to ensure we could bring about a cultural experience that would create a legacy for all participants for years to come.”
The bid committee, led by Casimir, will present to a panel of 26 NAIG council members in Dartmouth, N.S. on May 17. The successful proponent will be announced during the 2023 NAIG in Halifax in July.
The North American Indigenous Games is the largest international, multi-sport and cultural event for Indigenous youth in North America. The Games are held every four years and use a geographic rotation when choosing the next location.
For more information about the North American Indigenous Games, go online to naigcouncil.com.