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Tk’emlúps’ bid for 2027 North American Indigenous Games is official

A decision on the host community will be made in July 2023
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir announces on Nov. 25, 2022, that Tk’emlúps has been selected by the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council to serve as British Columbia's official host candidate community for the 2027 North American Indigenous Games. Each of Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba, Yukon and Northwest Territories also have an opportunity to put forward a proposed host city. A decision on where the 2027 Games will be held will be made in July 2023.

The Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc bid for the 2027 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) just got a whole lot stronger with the community being selected as B.C.'s host community bid for the Games.

In June, the NAIG council announced the Games would go to one of five western Canadian provinces or territories, with each first internally selecting a host community. Since that announcement, a competitive process has taken place, with the Tk’emlúps bid being chosen as B.C.'s best shot at securing the event.

The community will now compete with at least two other bids from the other eligible provinces and territories, which include Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon and Northwest Territories.

The Games are held every four years and use a geographic rotation when choosing the next location. The 2020 North American Indigenous Games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next Games will be held in Halifax in 2023. The 2027 bid is for the western region and the next opportunity for the region to host after 2027 is in 2039.

Further work on the bid for the Games will be done prior to a March 2023 deadline, which will then be followed by a site tour and the announcement of the winning community in July.

"The first part of that process was to compete on a provincial level. We did that with our partners — all of you in attendance today — and we created a solid first bid," Tk’emlúps Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir said on Friday (Nov. 25) in Tk’emlúps’ Moccasin Square Gardens.

Among those in attendance were Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson, councillors from Tk’emlúps and the City of Kamloops, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine, former senator Nancy Greene Raine and dozens of other community members.

The North American Indigenous Games is the largest multi‑sport and cultural event hosted in Canada and the United States and specifically targets Indigenous populations. Historically, the North American Indigenous Games has brought together more than 5,000 athletes, coaches and team staff from more than 756 Indigenous nations.

In October, the City of Kamloops stated its support for Tk’emlúps’ bid in the form of up to $500,000 of in-kind support and the use of facilities and staff time, along with a potential cash contribution.

Each North American Indigenous Games features eight days of competition in July, with up to 16 sports featured. The sporting events may include 3D archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, beach volleyball, box lacrosse, canoe/kayak, golf, rifle shooting, soccer, softball, swimming, volleyball and wrestling.

Welcoming such large crowds will create a significant demand on the city and nation that eventually ends up winning the bid.

Kamloops Coun. Mike O'Reilly, who attended Friday's announcement in his capacity as deputy mayor, said the city will play a big role in providing facilities, lodging and infrastructure.

"There's a lot that will be used," O'Reilly said.

"But there's a significant amount that will be required by the TteS on their lands and infrastructure they may be using. But I don't think this event could go forward with one and not the other."

O'Reilly also pointed to the legacy that hosting the Games would have on Kamloops. He said the city hosting the 1993 Canada Summer Games left a legacy on the city like no other event has since. That event welcomed about 3,000 athletes and led to significant infrastructure projects still in use today, including the construction of Riverside Coliseum (now Sandman Centre) in 1992.

O'Reilly said it's going to be an "all-hands-on-deck" type of situation going forward to determine what will be needed to welcome 6,000 people for the Games, if the bid is successful.

Casimir said it's going to take much collaboration between Tk'emlúps and the City of Kamloops to make the Games happen, should the bid be successful.

"We really need to bring some local pride to really enhance the importance of bringing our people together," she said.

Casimir said a huge list of potential volunteers has already been put together. In total, about 3,000 volunteers would be needed to host the games.

The promotion of healthy lifestyles and giving people something to look forward to and be hopeful about are among the non-economic benefits of hosting the Games, Casimir said.

Also announced on Friday was a $75,000 donation from the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (ISPARC) in support of the bid.

Rick Brant, executive director of ISPARC, said the organization sees itself as an active partner in the bid. Brant, a past NAIG CEO and longtime supporter of the Games, said the event is like no other international multi-sport games.

"They are about reducing barriers for Indigenous youth, families and communities. They are a gathering place for First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Native American people from across Turtle Island for the purpose of lifting up our youth and celebrating Indigenous excellence in sport in a culturally rich and culturally safe environment," he said.