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.
Olivia Chow won it. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the commentariat had to say:
“The response to the planks [Tory] rattled off Tuesday night – it is in favour of surface rail, which is basically a subway but has the disadvantage of not being called such – was curiously merely lukewarm.” – Maclean’s
“Well, there’s four things I’ll mention…” – John Tory Zzzzzzz. – Jim Coyle, Star
“[Chow had] stand-out moment at mayoral debate [when] In her opening statement at the debate, Chow zeroed in on Ford, asking voters to “fire” him in the upcoming fall election for his “embarrassing” behaviour over the last few months.” – CTV News
“[John Tory], do not recite lists at an audience. In the name of Bill Clinton, touch a chord!” – Jim Coyle, Star
“On Tory pay increase: he did support pay increase for MPPs…” – Daniel Dale, Star
“The scandals were barely mentioned during Tuesday’s debate. [Only] Ms. Chow who broke the nearly hour-and-a-half silence on the drug and alcohol issue…” – Globe and Mail
“Nearly all polls showed Olivia Chow leading, and it appears clear that she enjoys significant downtown support.” – Maclean’s
“One thing seems to resonate for Chow’s campaign: her messaging on youth unemployment… it earned her the loudest cheers of the night. – Maclean’s
“Tory, presenting himself as a crusading Obama figure to rescue a broken political system? Only, apparently, in Toronto.” – Maclean’s
“Even when you’re clean and sober you can’t stick to the truth,” Chow to RoFo. That one’s gonna leave a bruise.” – Jim Coyle, Star
“Ford lies again.” – Daniel Dale, Toronto Star
“‘Fire him for failure.’ Olivia Chow’s fired up, that’s for sure, at Ford & Tory. ‘We deserve more from Mr. Ford…and Mr. Tory.'” – Adrian Lee, Maclean’s
“Tory: ‘Who has the experience in actually delivering results?’ … TONIGHT’S LOSER: Rhetorical questions.” – Daniel Dale, Star
“As usual in these debates, Rob Ford has said by far the largest number of incorrect or misleading things.” – Daniel Dale, Star
Sue Anne sure likes to bash us progressives in her columns in the newspaper! Wow! She’s relentless!
But here’s a little photograph I’ll bet Sue Anne didn’t know was being taken: here she is, begging for Olivia’s autograph, when she thought nobody was looking. Do as I say not as I do, etc.
From Danny Paolini, at
How in Gods forsaken name can you comment on something you have no idea what you’re talking about??? How would you like your wife and kids ( if you’re capable of having) be terrorized, killed, maimed and have your land stolen by a bunch of converts and sub humans? Sure your paycheque is payed by jews, but you come across as being a psychopath, just like your compatriot ezra levant, lorrie goldstein et al. Get a real job, blind bat.
Sent from my iPhone
Are you blind as well as dumb, Kinsella? 66 years of oppression….demolitions, butchery and incarcerations; continuing settlements on stolen land. Read some history, you fucking idiot!