Cowichan 2008 North American Indigenous Games
In August 2008, Indigenous people from across North America will travel to the Cowichan Valley, on
Vancouver Island, to participate in the 2008 North American Indigenous Games, an international
celebration of youth, sport and culture.
HISTORY OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIGENOUS GAMES
In the 1970s, a number of visionaries began to explore the idea of promoting Indigenous cultures and
supporting Indigenous youth through sport. Leaders of various communities helped the concept evolve
and eventually a plan for a large-scale, multi-sport North American Indigenous Games emerged. Vision
was becoming reality. The first-ever NAIG were held in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1990, with approximately
3,000 participants. Since then, successive Games have been held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
(1993), Blaine, Minnesota (1995), Victoria, British Columbia (1997), Winnipeg, Manitoba (2002), and
Denver, Colorado (2006). In less than two decades, the number of sport and cultural participants has
tripled, to over 9,000. By encouraging Indigenous youth to participate in athletic competition, these
Games have become a vehicle for promoting healthier lifestyles and strengthened relationships
between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of North America.
In our cultures, to vision quest is strong and good medicine. To have a vision for the
people is powerful and to fulfill a vision for the people is sacred. Our ancestors were
given visions by the Creator, which lead the peoples to govern themselves. The North
American Indigenous Games was a vision.
Cowichan Tribes, with strong support from the communities of the Cowichan Valley and its Indigenous
and non-Indigenous leaders, successfully secured the 2008 Games through an international bid process.
In October 2004, members of the NAIG Council voted to award Cowichan the honour of hosting the
seventh NAIG. The strength of the Cowichan bid was more than its world-class facilities, unique
geographical backdrop and history of delivering successful events. Cowichan presented a unified
community partnership in staging the Games throughout the Cowichan Valley. From the Cowichan
Games a new benchmark will be established in the delivery of the North American Indigenous Games.
PARTNERS OF THE COWICHAN 2008 NAIG
Following the successful 2002 North American Indigenous Games in Winnipeg, the Federal and
Provincial governments, in conjunction with the Aboriginal Sport Circle, developed a Funding
Framework for 2008 NAIG, which recognized the importance of this unique sport and cultural event and
the need to provide sustainable financial support to ensure its ongoing success.
Partners of the Cowichan 2008 North American Indigenous Games include:
Cowichan Tribes — Host First Nations Tribe and Funding Partner
Government of Canada — Host Federal government and Funding Partner (approximately 35% of
Government of British Columbia — Host Provincial government and Funding Partner
(approximately 35% of Games costs)
Cowichan Valley Regional District — Funding Partner representing the communities of the
OPENING AND CLOSING CEREMONIES
The Cowichan 2008 NAIG Opening Ceremonies will be a community-wide celebration that is expected to
draw over 20,000 participants and spectators. Traditional welcoming ceremonies and a Parade of
Nations that will include athletes and cultural participants representing Indigenous Nations from across
North America are just some of the highlights. A pre-ceremony event will be hosted to recognize VIPs,
sponsors, media and athletes, as well as to provide a sneak preview of the event itself.
The Closing Ceremonies will include messages from Games hosts, cultural festivities, athletic
recognition and other components. The prestigious 2008 Games Overall Team Title will be awarded to
the team that collects the highest medal count. There will also be a formal announcement of the next
Host community for the Games.
All the regions of North America will be represented, with 13 provincial and territorial teams from
across Canada and as many as 20 teams from the U.S. participating. There will be 16 contemporary and
traditional sporting events offered over 10 days. These Games reflect the traditions of Indigenous
cultures using athletic competition to teach holistic principles integral to sport—physical, spiritual, and
mental (emotional/intellectual)—while reinforcing family and cultural values.
Sporting Events: 3-D Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing,
Golf, Lacrosse, Rifle Shooting, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Taekwondo,
The centrepiece to the Games, the Cultural Village will be hosted at the Quw’utsun’ Cultural Centre, a
world-renowned tourist attraction owned and operated by Cowichan Tribes. The Village will include a
variety of events, celebrations, exhibits, receptions, symposia and meetings for the duration of the
Games. Highlights of the Village will include:
• International Main Stage — Daily cultural events featuring traditional and contemporary Indigenous
• Cultural Celebrations — Traditional celebrations from Indigenous Nations across North America,
including Tribal Journeys participants
• Village Marketplace — Official Games merchandising, sponsor exhibits, pin-trading centre
• Artist Market — Artists from Indigenous cultures from across North America will be showcased, with
on-site carving and studio demonstrations
• VIP Area — Designated area for Indigenous hosts, Sponsors and other VIPs
• Complementary Activities — University-hosted symposia, Sponsor-hosted receptions and meetings,
First Nations meetings and events, etc.
The Cowichan Centre will be transformed into an Athletes’ Centre, a concept that will revolutionize
the way the Games provide for participants’ care and comfort. Full amenities will be offered, including
food services, sport information and results, as well as entertainment such as a games room and movie
theatre. The main goal is to provide athletes with an environment that truly feels like a home away
from home. Elders and other role models will be available to offer advice and support when needed,
and the atmosphere will reflect the Games’ positive focus on excellence and pride.
First launched in 1989 as a celebration of Indigenous peoples’ highly sophisticated relationship with the
ocean, Tribal Journeys is one of the most prominent cultural events associated with the North
American Indigenous Games. The largest-ever Tribal Journeys Canoe Voyage is set to mark the
beginning of the 2008 Games.
As many as 80 traditional ocean-going canoes, from a variety of canoe cultures and nations, will make a
two–week journey to Cowichan, travelling from as far north as the Alaskan border (Tlingket) and the
Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida) and as far south as Washington State.
Their journey ends as they pull into Cowichan Bay. There they will be received into Cowichan territory
with a traditional Coast Salish Welcome, a ceremony symbolic of ancient times when one nation would
travel into the territory of another, reminding us of the importance of the sharing of culture and
respect for Indigenous people all over the world.
Mountains, old-growth forests, salty ocean air, fresh lakes and rivers—you will find it all in the valley.
Considered one of the best and most beautiful places in Canada to live, the Cowichan Valley has much
to offer visitors besides the breathtaking views: kayaking, hiking, seaside dining, live theatre, organic
markets, artists’ studios and galleries. For those travelling to Cowichan for the Games, this will be
more than just an international multi-sport games— it will be the experience of a lifetime.
With an estimated 9,000 participants, 5,000+ spectators, and untold numbers of tourists drawn to the
Cowichan Valley to witness this event, it is expected that the Games will contribute over $26 million to
the local and provincial economy.
The 2008 North American Indigenous Games is a catalyst for reconciliation, building new and
meaningful relationships among families, communities and governments. By working together toward
shared goals, we are creating supportive environments for Indigenous youth that give them a sense of
belonging and encourage them to reach their full potential.
For media information, please contact:
Tel : (250) 746-2008 Cell : (250) 709-7902