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Sparse Alberta Games Going Ahead as Planned

The Alberta Indigenous Games will be scaled down due to lack of funding but will run as scheduled from July 17-21.
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The Alberta Indigenous Games (AIG) will still go ahead as planned. But the games will be considerably smaller than what organizers had originally anticipated.

About 400 athletes are expected to take part in the multi-sports competition, which runs from July 17–21 at three locations throughout the province. Organizers had hoped about 2,000 athletes would show up for these games, established in large part to fill the void for Alberta athletes that was created with the cancellation of this summer's North American Indigenous Games, which were supposed to be held in Milwaukee.

"I'm very disappointed," AIG Executive Director Allan Ross said of the participation numbers. "I think it has to do with the economics and the short time frame we had to plan and also the inability to have the resources to do the marketing we wanted to."

And he's happy that the games will still be held, considering that the event was put together quickly, with little money.

"We started this project with literally no funding," he said. "And we were basing it on promises for funding from reputable sources. But they didn't come through for us."

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There is still plenty to do, with cultural pavilions in addition to the games themselves. An education and career pavilion will give athletes the chance to earn bonus points for their overall team scores by texting or e-mailing testimonials about the pavilion.

"That's probably the most significant aspect of the games," Ross said of the pavilion, which will feature representatives from various post-secondary schools and aboriginal organizations.

The scaled-down version of the AIG will have five sports being contested instead of the nine that were originally planned. Participants were all born between 1992 and '99 and will compete in three age groupings.

Track and field, basketball and ball hockey competitions will be held in Edmonton, with canoe races in Leduc and golf tournaments on the Enoch Cree Nation.

Besides athletes from Alberta, the AIG is also expected to showcase several basketball teams from Manitoba as well as track and field and canoeing entrants from the Northwest Territories. Archery, soccer, softball and volleyball competitions were all canceled due to low registration numbers.

Though a special musical event of aboriginal musicians and dancers was also canceled, the AIG will still include a cultural component. The Games' theme is Reclaiming Our Youth. There will also be a cultural pavilion featuring aboriginal arts and crafts, and the opening ceremonies are being held in conjunction with the Poundmaker's Lodge Pow Wow.