APTN National News
A weather delay didn’t put a damper on the opening ceremonies for the 2017 North American Indigenous Games.
Cheers filled the Aviva Centre in Toronto, Ont. where 5,000 athletes from across Canada and the United States came to kick off this year’s games.
Sunday’s event marks the start of the games which run from July 16-23.
Athletes aged 13-19 will compete in 14 different sporting activities including archery, baseball and wrestling.
As crowd members waited for the festivities to begin athletes kept up the infectious energy by chanting their team’s name.
They waved various flags showing their home community. Some travelling away from home for the first time.
Member of the Eastern Door and the North team, Keishawn Bradstreet, 16, travelled from his home community of Gesgapegiag, QC for the games.
“This is a great experience,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like this before. I can’t believe I’m here.”
he ceremonies started with a smudge and prayer from Elder Gary Sault from Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.
Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas got the crowd out of their seats with a short musical number. Before beginning his set he gave the athletes in the crowd some advice.
“Keep on believing in yourself because dreams do come true.”
Resilience was a common theme amongst many of the speakers.
Minister Carolyn Bennett applauded the athletes on their “pride, dignity and resilience.”
Adding some advice, “play hard, have fun and make wonderful new friends that will change your life.”
Other speakers included Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami National President Natan Obed, AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and Mayor of Toronto John Tory.
Electronic group A Tribe Called Red closed the show.