Sports and reconciliation

Learn how the Government of Canada is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 87 to 91.

Based on data provided June 2022.

87. We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.

What's happening?

The Aboriginal Sport Circle, the national voice for Indigenous sport and a federally funded multisport service organization, has managed and presented the Tom Longboat Awards since 1999.

With funding support from the Department of Canadian Heritage (Sport Canada), the awards relaunched in 2017.

This program honours Indigenous athletes for their outstanding contributions to sport in Canada.

The 2019 award recipients were presented at the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in October 2019.

The 2020 awards were cancelled, as athletes were not able to compete and participate in sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 award recipients formally received their awards at the 2021 Canada's Sport Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

The Aboriginal Sport Circle:

  • is engaging with Canada's Sports Hall of Fame to continue to promote the Tom Longboat Award and other relevant recognition projects
  • presents the National Indigenous Coaching Awards annually at the Petro-Canada Leadership Gala, in collaboration with the Coaching Association of Canada

88. We call upon all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth, and continued support for the North American Indigenous Games, including funding to host the games and for provincial and territorial team preparation and travel.

What's happening?

The Government of Canada fully recognizes that expression through sport remains a key part of Indigenous identity. Since its inception in 1990, Sport Canada has been a steady funder of the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) hosting, team preparation and travel. This is consistent with the terms of the North American Indigenous Games Funding Framework.

The NAIG is a multisport event for youth 13 to 19 years old that showcases unity, sport, culture, youth, volunteerism and teamwork between First Nations, Métis, Inuit and non-Indigenous communities. The NAIG was founded on the principles of promoting healthy lifestyles, building self-image and promoting Indigenous role models through sport and culture.

In October 2016, the NAIG Council, with the approval of the Federal-Provincial and Territorial Sport Committee, adopted a new hosting model for the games to be hosted in Canada every 4 years beginning in 2020. This previously alternated between Canada and the United States every 3 years.

For the NAIG beyond 2020, a new funding framework and hosting rotation will apply as approved in February 2019 by the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation.

Ministers agreed that:

  • this hosting framework will apply beginning in 2024 and every 4 years thereafter
  • the NAIG standard operating budget will range between $10 million and $14 million, with federal and provincial or territorial governments contributing a matching 35% of the agreed upon budget

The 2020 Games, set to be hosted in Halifax-Dartmouth Region and Millbrook First Nation, were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the NAIG Council had to review the hosting rotation.

In April 2021, the Council approved a revised hosting rotation that would start in 2023 and maintain the 4-year interval moving forward.

In June 2021, Federal/ Provincial/ Territorial (FPT) deputy ministers endorsed the hosting rotation as approved by the Council and endorsed by the Standing Work Group on Indigenous Sport Development.

This change in the rotation required that the NAIG Funding Framework be updated to reflect the new dates. The revised framework will now apply starting with the 2027 NAIG (as opposed to the 2024 NAIG).

The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and its Call to Action 88 was a clear factor in securing the ongoing dedicated source of funding for the NAIG. That funding was approved via Budget 2017's Indigenous Youth and Sport funding envelope.

The Budget 2017 investments towards Indigenous athlete development include $18.9 million over 5 years, starting in fiscal year 2017 to 2018 and ongoing funding of $5.5 million every 4 years thereafter, to support Indigenous youth and sport initiatives.

Investments from the initial 5 years enabled organizations to deliver culturally relevant sport programming and strengthened established roles and leadership of Canadian sport system partners such as:

  • the Aboriginal Sport Circle
  • Provinces and Territories
  • Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies
  • National Sport Organizations
  • Multisport Service Organizations

The ongoing investment secures funding for the hosting of the NAIG and includes funding to support reporting requirements as well as to address data and research gaps relative to Indigenous children and youth in sport.

89. We call upon the federal government to amend the Physical Activity and Sport Act to support reconciliation by ensuring that policies to promote physical activity as a fundamental element of health and well-being, reduce barriers to sports participation, increase the pursuit of excellence in sport, and build capacity in the Canadian sport system, are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples.

What's happening?

Discussions with Indigenous sport organizations have concluded that this will be a longer-term effort, given that changes to legislation require consultation with other federal government departments in collaboration with the Aboriginal Sport Circle and Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Recent budget investments

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic's public health measures and the economic fallout many Indigenous communities and sport organizations faced, Sport Canada provided emergency support funds of up to 25% of respective sport organizations' operating and approved funding. This is on top of current funding received based on existing contribution agreements.

The emergency support funds were distributed as follows:

  • $34.5 million to 83 national level sport organizations based on identified needs, including the Aboriginal Sport Circle
  • $51.4 million to all 13 provinces and territories through existing bilateral agreements to help up to 700 not-for-profit provincial and territorial sport organizations, including Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies, as well as regional and community sport organizations
  • $5 million to amateur athletes to help address impacts caused by the cancellation of national and international training opportunities and competitive events, including the postponement of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the 2020 North American Indigenous Games

Next steps

The ongoing work in other areas related to Indigenous sport development will lay the foundation for the future amendment of the Physical Activity and Sport Act.

Over the next 2 years (2022 to 2024) the Aboriginal Sport Circle will lead a national consultation process resulting in the development of a National Indigenous Sport Strategy, funded by Canadian Heritage (Sport Canada). The strategy will be a framework for delivering culturally appropriate participant development, culturally informed engagement, and policy development for all levels of government. It will also include best practices for Indigenous and non-Indigenous sport, recreation, physical activity, health and wellness sectors. The Aboriginal Sport Circle also envision the strategy as providing a framework for the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action, and particularly those focused on sport, i.e., #87-#91.

90. We call upon the federal government to ensure that national sports policies, programs, and initiatives are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples, including, but not limited to, establishing:

  1. In collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, stable funding for, and access to, community sports programs that reflect the diverse cultures and traditional sporting activities of Aboriginal peoples.
  2. An elite athlete development program for Aboriginal athletes.
  3. Programs for coaches, trainers, and sports officials that are culturally relevant for Aboriginal peoples.
  4. Anti-racism awareness and training programs.

What's happening?

The Government of Canada is investing $18.9 million over 5 years, starting in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, and ongoing funding of $5.5 million every 4 years thereafter, to support Indigenous youth and sport initiatives in the following 4 areas:

  • Indigenous sport leadership
  • culturally relevant sport programming
  • the North American Indigenous Games
  • Sport Canada's data and research

More specifically, investments were allocated to:

  • the Aboriginal Sport Circle to assume a greater leadership role on Indigenous sport development. This means having the capacity to assume and maintain a national leadership role on Indigenous sport including:
    • to support the Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies
    • national sport organizations and multisport services organizations aligning their existing programming with the Indigenous Long-term Participation Development Pathway
    • ensuring that a data strategy is developed
  • provinces and territories, through bilateral agreements, to increase the operational capacity of Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies and the offering of culturally relevant sport programming including the North American Indigenous Games team preparation and travel
  • national sport organizations and multisport service organizations to ensure long-term Indigenous athlete development and growth through increasing the offering of culturally relevant sport programming

In addition, the Aboriginal Sport Circle co-chairs, with Sport Canada, the Standing Working Group for Indigenous Sport Development under the Federal-Provincial/Territorial Sport Committee reporting to FPT ministers responsible for sport. This working group brings together Indigenous sport organizations and federal, provincial and territorial governments to identify Indigenous sport priorities and co-create action plans to address them, including in relation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

Recent budget investments

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic's public health measures and the economic fallout many Indigenous communities and sport organizations faced, Sport Canada provided emergency support funds, of up to 25% of respective sport organizations' operating and approved funding. This is on top of current funding received based on existing contribution agreements.

The emergency funds were distributed as follows:

  • $34.5 million to 83 national level sport organizations based on identified needs, including the Aboriginal Sport Circle
  • $51.4 million to all 13 provinces and territories through existing bilateral agreements to help up to 700 not-for-profit provincial and territorial sport organizations, including Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies, as well as regional and community sport organizations
  • $5 million dollars to amateur athletes to help address impacts caused by the cancellation of national and international training opportunities and competitive events, including the postponement of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the 2020 North American Indigenous Games

91. We call upon the officials and host countries of international sporting events such as the Olympics, Pan Am, and Commonwealth games to ensure that Indigenous peoples' territorial protocols are respected, and local Indigenous communities are engaged in all aspects of planning and participating in such events.

What's happening?

Sport Canada has included this call to action in its documents shared with bid and host organizations and other partners that are responsible for developing or supporting major sport event bids. These considerations are also included in Sport Canada's ongoing coordination to develop a national bidding and hosting framework for major sport events involving provincial and territorial governments, as well as other major events partners.

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