Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam (second from left) hopes the City of Victoria comes on board with a bid for the 2020 North American Indigenous Games. Family members Gavin, Nathan and Josh Sam, pictured here, played lacrosse for Team B.C. in the 2017 Games in Toronto. Lauren Boothby /VICTORIA NEWS

Victoria considers 2020 North American Indigenous Games bid

Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam says committee meets next week

This story has been updated with new information since the original posting.

Victoria could once again be hosting the North American Indigenous Games, the News has learned.

Chief Ron Sam of the Songhees Nation said he’s in the process of forming a committee to discuss a bid application for Victoria to host the Games in 2020. The committee will be meeting next week, where there will potentially be representatives from the City of Victoria, and the provincial and federal governments. The office of Murray Rankin, federal member of parliament for Victoria, has confirmed they are sending a representative to the Songhees Wellness Centre on Monday.

“It’s slowly coming together right now,” Sam said. “The city is big enough. We have hotels, we have sport venues, we have universities for lodging athletes …We’re just crossing our fingers.”

Coun. Marianne Alto will also be attending the meeting and said she is looking forward to hearing more about the bid and what hosting the Games could look like.

“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity,” she said. “When [the Games have] appeared in other communities, it’s had very beneficial effects. Not just for Indigenous communities involved, but for the surrounding communities as well.”

Mayor Lisa Helps said if the Songhees Nation is interested, she would consider supporting the bid.

“We want to support the First Nations here, and if this is something they want to take leadership on, I would be happy to learn more and hear about the opportunity,” she said.

RELATED: Songhees youth among those recognized by province for achievement in sport

The 2020 Games were initially awarded to Winnipeg, but Sam said that bid has fallen through, opening the door to other bidders. Victoria hosted the Games in 1997.

The North American Indigenous Games in Toronto and Hamilton this year saw 5,000 athletes compete in 14 sports. Roughly 2,000 volunteers were involved in staging the Games, which attracted thousands of visitors.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

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