Canada Games partners with Indigenous communities
Canada Games 2021 EO Barry Wright and Indigenous Partnership Council chair Michele-Elise Burnett sign a memorandum of understanding.
The 2021 Canada Games Host Society continues to break new ground.
On Wednesday, it signed a memorandum of understanding with a newly formed Indigenous Partnership Council. The goal is to reinforce the presence and engagement of Indigenous communities in events before and during the Niagara 2021 Canada Summer Games.
The memorandum represents the first time a host society has partnered with a council represented by various Indigenous communities in an effort to further strengthen Indigenous participation and engagement.
Making up the IPC will be representatives from local, provincial and national Indigenous communities and groups including the Six Nations of the Grand River, Niagara Regional Native Friendship Centre, Fort Erie Friendship Centre, The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Metis Nation of Ontario, the Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board, Inuit and Brock University.
The IPC’s vision is to build a legacy for an inspiring, unifying and transformative 2021 Canada Summer Games by sharing the diverse cultures of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples. The IPC will share in welcoming and educating athletes, their families, guests, the Niagara community, and viewers nationwide on the original peoples and sharing their distinct cultures, traditions, songs, dances and craftsmanship.
The IPC will play a key role in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Niagara Place, the 13-for-13 Cultural Festival, and the celebrations surrounding the reintroduction of the Indigenous game of lacrosse.
“We are proud to be taking this important step forward in furthering the inclusion of Indigenous communities with the Niagara 2021 Canada Summer Games,” said Doug Hamilton, board chair of the host society. “With Niagara 2021 already set to welcome the return of lacrosse to the Canada Games, this partnership with our host society will help us showcase the richness of Indigenous sport and culture to Canadians from coast to coast.”
Michele-Elise Burnett, a board member of the host society and the IPC chair, feels it will be a “wonderful opportunity to raise the bar nationally by listening, engaging and working together with Indigenous communities to give its participants one of the most culturally enriched experience the Games has ever seen.”
Burnett is a proud Metis with Algonquin roots.
“Collectively, we can create and design an exceptional Games that will convey the meaning, depth, substance and significant contributions of Indigenous culture to Canadian history,” she said.
The inclusion of lacrosse in the 2021 Canada Summer Games in the Niagara Region is seen as a meaningful step in Canada’s reconciliation efforts with Indigenous peoples. Lacrosse hasn’t been contested at the Canada Summer Games since 1985.
“The creation of this council is significant for the Indigenous communities in Niagara because it demonstrates that Niagara 2021 recognizes and acknowledges the treaty rights and traditional territory of these communities,” said Evan Sault, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation councillor and a representative on the IPC. “Additionally, this council will help create a positive, welcoming environment that will encourage all Indigenous people to attend and participate in the event.”
The IPC and host society plan to identify and recruit Indigenous candidates for leadership roles in the planning and operations of Niagara 2021’s volunteer services, artistic festivals, Athletes Village, and Niagara Place.