Premier John Horgan poses for a group photo with First Nations youth at Songhees Wellness Centre gym following an announcement of $1.46 million in funding for B.C. athletes, coaches and officials attending the 2020 North American Indigenous Games, in Victoria on Friday, June 28, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner)

B.C. adds $1.46M to offset costs for 2020 Indigenous Games athletes

The North American Indigenous Games will be held July 12 to 18 next year in Halifax

Premier John Horgan shot some hoops in the basketball court at the Songhees Wellness Centre in Victoria on Friday shortly after talking about the power of sports to improve lives and build nations.

Horgan says the cost of sports should not be a factor in holding back participation as he announced the government will invest $1.46 million to send more B.C. athletes to the 2020 North American Indigenous Games in Halifax.

The funding announcement was greeted with loud cheers from Indigenous athletes, dancers and elders who gathered at the centre for the announcement.

Horgan says the money allows more participants and offsets the costs for more than 500 athletes, coaches, chaperones and staff.

He says he believes sports builds stronger individuals and communities and everybody should have the opportunity to participate.

The Songhees First Nation’s bid to host the 2020 Games fell short last year, but the community remains a supporter of the event.

The North American Indigenous Games, held July 12 to 18 next year, is a multi-sport competition and cultural festival expected to draw more than 5,000 Indigenous youth from 750 First Nations.

“Being on the field, being in the box, being at centre court for the opening jump of a basketball game, fills athletes with a sense of purpose and a sense of co-operation for their teammates,” Horgan says. “Win or lose, sport brings out, in my opinion, the best in all of us.”

The Canadian Press

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