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Province provides $3.5 million for aboriginal sporting even

500 First Nations youths in Colorado for Indigenous games

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The 2008 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) has been granted $3.5 million by the province. The announcement comes just the week before more than 500 First nations youth from across B.C. travel to Denver to take part in the 2006 NAIG.

The 2008 NAIG, organized by the Cowichan Tribes, will take place on Vancouver Island.

"The funding commitment reflects a strong spirit of co-operation between the Cowichan 2008 North American Indigenous Games Society and the Province of British Columbia," said NAIG 2008 chair Calvin Swustus. "Our partnership with the province and the success that will result from this relationship will serve as a model for future partnerships as we carry forward towards 2008 and beyond."

The bi-annual event that Alex Nelson, president of the Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Association of B.C., proudly calls “our Olympics”, has registered 9,000 athletes and cultural participants for the Denver games. Among the participants are 17 young soccer players from Mt. Currie’s Lil’wat Nation. In all, more than 500 aboriginal youth will represent the province in Denver as Team B.C.

Last week’s announcement marks the first time a provincial government has contributed to NAIG on such a large scale. The federal government has committed to match the province’s contribution, while the NAIG organizing society will be responsible for raising the final $3 million of the $10-nillion budget. This represents a significant increase over the Denver games budget, which is estimated at $5 million US.

The B.C. event, scheduled for Aug. 2-10, 2008, is expected to attract 6,000 athletes and generate more than $20 million in economic activity in the Cowichan Valley.

The first North American Indigenous Games were held in Edmonton in 1990. The NAIG are open to First Nations, Inuit and Metís people from across North America. The Colorado games take place July 2-8. Results from the various competitions will be available through their website at www.naig2006.com

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