07.17.2014 08:57 PM

In Friday’s Sun: some games are more equal than others

If this was happening in Toronto, and if the athletes were a bit different, the whole country would be expected to stop in its tracks and take notice.

And, already, that is literally what has happened. This Summer, Toronto’s roads have effectively ground to a halt because of the Pan Am Games. Every major roadway in Canada’s largest city has seemingly been paralyzed by construction-caused gridlock.

Some Pan Am facilities are way behind schedule and way over budget. Meanwhile, Pan Am Games executives are reportedly receiving millions in bonuses – while other high-living execs have been hurriedly replaced amid front-page controversy.

Notwithstanding all of that bona fide scandal, provincial and municipal politicians have fallen all over themselves to trumpet the Pan Am Games. They’ve led rallies, they’ve spent money they do not have, and they’ve generally expected the rest of us to regard the Games – now just under a year away – as important as, say, the Moon landing.

Meanwhile, in Saskatchewan this weekend, another North America-wide athletic competition is taking place. But you’d never know it.

They’re the North American Indigenous Games. NAIG, as it is known, is attracting thousands of athletes from across the continent – from places as far-flung as New York, Florida, Nunavut, and the Yukon. All across Canada and North America, in fact. Just like the Pan Am Games.

NAIG will run from July 20 to 27, in Regina and surrounding locations. There’ll be close to 4,000 athletes in attendance, along with about 1,000 coaches, and thousands of families and friends. Fifteen sports will be represented. Athletes will be representing 21 regions in North America – in all, thirteen from Canada, and eight from the U.S.

Sports being competed include archery, track, baseball, basketball, canoeing, golf, kayaking, lacrosse, rifle shooting, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling. (Swimming was facing elimination, because of a shortage of accredited officials, but is now back on.)

The first North American Indigenous Games took place in Edmonton, nearly 25 years ago. They’ve also been held in places like Winnipeg, Victoria, and Denver. The Denver event, in 2006, was managed by individuals who are actually members of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Sounds like a pretty big deal, right? Sounds important, no?

Scanning media headlines, listening to the politicians, you’d never know it. While the proverbial red carpet has been rolled out for the Pan Am Games boondoggle – while politicians have heaped praise on the budget-busting Pan Am Games and everyone associated with them – NAIG gets barely a mention anywhere, anytime, by anyone.

Apart from small-town media, few reporters have bothered to write or broadcast anything about NAIG to date. No politicians seem to have been clamouring to pay tribute to NAIG or its athletes. I’d wager, as a result, that many Canadians don’t even know NAIG is happening.

You can speculate as to the reasons why. And, full disclosure, as the Dad to an aboriginal daughter who is swimming for Team Ontario, I have my own suspicions. But my daughter – a citizen of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation in the Yukon – is thrilled to be leaving today for Regina. She may not have heard a peep – not a word! – from Toronto’s mayor, her local councilor, the provincial Premier or even Ontario’s Minister of Sport, but she couldn’t be more proud to be waving Ontario’s colours in NAIG’s opening ceremonies.

(There is one prominent figure we’ve heard from, however. Laureen Teskey, the Prime Minister’s wife, met my daughter briefly, years ago, and has kept track of her progress through life. She’s a nice lady.)

Anyway – as a Dad, as a taxpayer, as a citizen, I say: to Hell with you, Pan Am Games. I’ll be in Saskatchewan with my partner for the North American Indigenous Games this week, to loudly cheer on the athletes there.

And I’ll bet we won’t encounter a single traffic jam, budget overrun or scandal along the way.



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    smelter rat says:

    Well said.

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    Marc-André Chiasson says:

    Best wishes to your daughter. You have reason to be proud of her and, regardless of the mainstream media’s lack of interest or awareness, she will enjoy experiences that she will treasure for her lifetime. It is sad how “Big Media” ignores what is happening outside of Toronto on the anglophone side, and the same thing regarding Montreal on the francophone side. Radio-Canada should be renamed Radio-Montréal. For example, and in the same vein as your Saskatchewan story, I’m sure not too many people outside the Maritimes are even aware that the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 is being held in Moncton starting August 5th. Sad state of affairs. Perhaps we should ask Mike Duffy to be the mascot of the Games. Then we’d get lots of “Upper Canadian” coverage, n’est-ce pas?

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      Warren says:

      Oui, mon chum

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      david ray says:

      re sad state of affairs… on the day Duffy was charged a plane crash gave him cover. it’s what I call the BIS factor. Bums in Seats. Crash is bigger than Duffy and Duffy is bigger than games no matter who is playing. Of course the Pan AM games are just a scam for old politicos to take another victory lap and cash in. It sucks but there it is. Our culture is overthrilled and unfulfilled and whoever can keep the adrenaline flowing gets the attention.

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    debs says:

    have a great time!

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    Pipes says:

    Ya man. My daughter leaves for the games on Sunday. She is the Provincial Volleyball Coach. Good luck to Em!

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    Harly Murdoch says:

    Well said!
    It is unfortunate that the only media attention the North American Indigenous Games receive is from first nation community news, or groups established on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This is going to be an amazing experience for your daughter and the thousands of other athletes competing in Regina.
    The surrounding first nation communities in North Western Ontario have been fundraising for quite some time now, as well as hosting pep rallies, fish frys and BBQ’s to support their local athletes. NAIG not only inspires the competitors; it also spreads a strong sense of pride and honour in the communities as the children, youth, adults and elders cheer for the local athletes.

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    davie says:

    As media reduces the number of reporters it becomes ever more likely that covrage goes to whichever organization or event has the larger pr budgets. Methinks an increasing amount of ‘news’ we get is press releases, rather than what reporters have dug up.

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      davie says:

      Of course I know how to spell. It’s my editing that is at fault.

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    Ridiculosity says:

    “These are not your children, these are not my children, they are our children.” – Saskatchewan Elder Ken Goodwill

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    TrueNorthist says:

    4pm Sunday APTN is carrying the openning ceremonies and will be providing extensive coverage.


    July 16, 2014, Winnipeg, Manitoba – Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) announced today it will provide extensive coverage of the 2014 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG)starting July 20th through July 25th.

    Athletes and coaches will travel from all over North America to Regina, Saskatchewan to partake in the 8th edition of the North American Indigenous Games, from July 20th – 27th, 2014. APTN is sending its top reporters on the road to bring daily news coverage and behind the scene stories to its viewers. “We believe in the importance of promoting a healthy and positive lifestyle within the indigenous communities,” says APTN Chief Executive Officer Jean La Rose. “We hope that this special programming will motivate and inspire communities and individuals across the country to get active and reach for their dreams,” he adds.

    NAIG Opening Ceremonies LIVE Broadcast:

    APTN’s own Michael Hutchison and former Olympian and NAIG participant Waneek Horn-Miller will be co-hosting a special LIVE broadcast of the NAIG Opening Ceremonies on July 20th, starting at 4:00 p.m. ET, 1:00 pm PST airing on APTN and APTN HD. This spectacular showcase of the diverse traditions, languages, songs and dance of the host province will also feature performances by the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company, Inez Jasper, Crystal Shawanda, Plex and Juno Award winner George Leach. LIVE streaming of the ceremonies will also be available at aptn.ca/news/live.”

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      TrueNorthist says:

      I seen a book once and can spell the pictures reel good! “…is carrying the OPENING ceremonies” … etc.

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    Jon Adams says:


    If someone says to check out Burger Baron, don’t bother, they’ve gone downhill. Where you wanna go is Coney Island on Dewdney Avenue near Government House. Milky Way still does the best ice cream in town and they’ve got some great hotdogs too. The Artesian on 13th Ave has cool stuff happening some nights; 13th Avenue is the funky neighborhood, so it worth a trip. “Fresh and Sweet” is best breakfast, and the lineup outside on Sunday mornings bears that out. Ya gotta have yourself Houston Pizza at some point. X-Ray records has had to move shop a few times, but they still do good vinyl there if you find their little basement setup downtown. The University of Regina is dull as dishwater during the summer, but it’s right on Wascana Park, which is huge. (Pack bugspray, the mosquitos are plentiful this year.) The best local station is 91.3.

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      Warren says:

      God bless you. Lisa and I will do everything you suggest.

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    jack says:

    Having just returned from the area, I concur with Jon. Bring anything that will kill, maim, fend off or otherwise protect you from lots of mosquitos. I heard the test traps went up tenfold over a couple of nights this past week.

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    e.a.f. says:

    I knew but I watch APTN. a good station to watch!

    Of course not of this was covered by other MSM because of the third word in the name. If its not European or Asian culture based, it doesn’t get covered.

    Hope you and your daughter and family have a great time! Go APTN Go. Go NAIG GO.

    The Pan An games are simply another e.g. of product over people.

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    Pipes says:

    I actually do not know one person who gives a damn about the Pan Am Games and in my view, as limited as it is, we/they are producing a ghost town of post participation facilities.

    Empty shells of buildings and specialized venues, and well over paid staff. I fully expect that the aftermath will be over budget, and again, a lot of ‘white elephants’ (buildings) left behind. Lately it seems like Toronto is not mature or responsible enough to produce this kind of ‘world class’ event. Look at our political leadership and the leadership these Games have. I think it will be more like the Pan Cramp Games.

    NAIG is far more interesting, but I suspect it is all about corporate money, or the lack of it. Look for example at the Para Olympic Games-again far more interesting and challenging and is really an Olympic afterthought.

    Anyway, I am running for Leadership of the GRUMPY OLD PEOPLES PARTY (GOPP)-want to join?

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    Warren says:

    Many thanks Les

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