Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Participants in this year’s Masters Indigenous Games (MIG) will have the opportunity to attend the event’s opening gala in the country’s most visited museum.
The 2023 MIG, restricted to Indigenous athletes 19 and over from around the world, will be staged Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 in Ottawa.
MIG officials announced this past week that the Games’ opening gala will be held Aug. 24 at the Canadian Museum of History.
The museum, which is located across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Que., averages more than 1.2 million visitors each year, making the facility the country’s most-visited museum.
Marc Laliberte, the chair of the 2023 MIG organizing committee, said he’s been to the museum a couple of times. “And I’ve always been impressed with the exhibits.”
Gala attendees will have the opportunity to tour a pair of exhibitions that will be running during the Games titled “First Peoples of the Northwest Coast” and “From Time Immemorial – Tsimshian Prehistory”.
The gala will be held in the museum’s Grand Hall, which showcases traditional and contemporary works from First Nations artisans from Canada’s Pacific Coast.
“I think it’s going to be a real eyeopener for the Indigenous athletes that come from across Canada and, hopefully, from across the world,” Laliberte said.
Christina Ruddy, MIG’s director of events and ceremonies, also believes the Canadian Museum of History is an ideal venue for the opening gala.
“It pays homage to past and present Indigenous communities, traditions, and histories that have shaped Canada since time immemorial,” Ruddy said. “The space is truly awe-inspiring and a great way to welcome Indigenous athletes and their families who will be attending the Games from communities all over the world.”
Ruddy believes those who attend the gala will share an educational experience.
“Every Indigenous community’s story is diverse and rooted in history and in the land, and what better way to welcome our guests than to immerse them in the history of our first peoples, coupled with a celebration of the region’s Indigenous performers and artists,” she said.
Organizers have yet to announce the list of those who will perform at the gala.
Caroline Dromaguet, the president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History, is thrilled MIG organizers selected the museum to stage the opening gala.
“We hope that their time in the Museum’s Grand Hall, immersed in the history of first peoples of the Pacific Coast's rich history, will serve as a source of inspiration for all who attend and participate in the 2023 Masters Indigenous Games,” she said.
This year will mark the second time the MIG have been staged. The inaugural Games were held in Toronto in 2018.
Organizers are hoping to attract about 1,000 athletes to the nation’s capital this August.
They will participate in six sports—athletics (track and field), basketball, canoeing/kayaking, golf, volleyball and lacrosse.
The 2018 MIG also featured six sports, but softball has been dropped this time around and replaced by lacrosse.
“From what I understand, we weren’t getting much interest from softball,” Laliberte said, who is also the president of Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario, the governing body for Indigenous athletics in the province.
Laliberte is thrilled lacrosse has been added to the mix this year.
“It’s one of the original Indigenous sports,” he said. “And it’s played all over Turtle Island. Being an Indigenous sport and including it is very important.”
Laliberte believes lacrosse will attract its share of competitors this year.
“I’ve heard men’s and women’s teams are already starting to form,” he said.
Laliberte said a few hundred athletes have already registered to participate in this year’s MIG, including some American competitors. He’s hoping athletes from other countries will also sign up.
“We’ve reached out to some of the other embassies in Ottawa (to invite international athletes),” he said.
Besides the competitions and the opening night gala, this year’s MIG will include a two-day cultural festival on Aug. 25 and Aug. 27 at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa.
The festival will feature an Indigenous marketplace, including food trucks and a stage showcasing Indigenous performers and immersive cultural experiences.
The festival, which is free and open to members of the public, will also feature interactive sport demonstrations.
More information about this year’s MIG is available at www.mastersindigenousgames.com
Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.