By Shari Narine
ENOCH CREE NATION
The second World Indigenous Nations Games, launched in six different languages in a world-wide news conference on March 13 on the Enoch Cree Nation, will cost $25 million to deliver.
“We’re more ambitious,” said Treaty 6 Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, who is also the founder of the Games.
They will be a combination of competitive sports, traditional games, and conferences, and will take place July 1 to July 9 on the Enoch Cree Nation and in Edmonton.
Littlechild said events similar in size to what is expected for these games – 30-plus countries and 4,000 athletes – have cost between $10 million and $15 million. Brazil, which hosted the first World Indigenous Nations Games in 2015, did it at a price tag of $30 million.
Littlechild said financial sponsorship is still being sought, although they are currently working with some “very willing partners with ongoing discussions on the funding aspect.”
He noted that they had already received considerable contributions-in-kind from First Nations in the Edmonton area.
“So it’s still work in progress, but we’re very confident and encouraged from what we’re hearing from partners,” he said
Also encouraging was the number of countries that have already committed: 14. In Brazil, there were 29.
“We’re looking to get at least more than 30 countries, to be matched by our own teams from Canada,” said Littlechild.
The World Indigenous Nations Games are a breathing example of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Littlechild said, noting that the original games declaration referenced specific sections of the UN declaration.
“It’s about self-determination and it’s about cultural manifestation through the traditional games and sports,” he said, “The games are living out the declaration.”
Littlechild noted that the Games marked both Canada’s 150 year anniverary and the 140th for Treaty 6 and its adhesions.
“It celebrates a milestone of the original spirit and intent of treaty which was actually partnership and working together, having good relations,” he said.
Enoch Cree Nation Chief Billy Morin says the games will be the next step in reconciliation for all the world’s Indigenous peoples.
“It will be a huge honour and a huge commitment for us to take care of all the Indigenous peoples of the world coming to Enoch Cree Nation. For the time that they’re here they’re going to be our people, our brothers and sisters,” he said.
People will be impressed, said Littlechild.
“They’re going to see the richness and the beauty of our culture…. So we’re looking at old ancient Indigenous games that are not normally seen by the world. So it will be a complete, and I think, happy surprise to look at the diversity of our games,” he said.
In 1977 at a global conference of Indigenous leaders, Littlechild first proposed the World Indigenous Nations Games.