The Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) unveiled Debwe the turtle as the official mascot for this year's games on Thursday.
The design of the upright turtle with a lacrosse stick and a NAIG T-shirt, was created by 14-year-old Anton, of Deer Lake, Ont., and was selected from more than 200 submissions by Indigenous youth across Canada.
The games say the turtle is an important Indigenous symbol as it was believed to be present during earth's creation and is thought to carry life's teachings on its back. They also say it represents truth, one of the seven grandfather teachings that many Indigenous communities share.
The mascot's name, Debwe, is an Anishinaabe word, meaning "One who speaks the Truth," and its red cap, which is adorned with #88 — a reference to Call to Action #88 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, aims to promote reconciliation through the inspirational power of sport. The games also say the cap is a reminder that every Canadian has the responsibility to participate in reconciliation.
The eight-day, multi-sport and cultural event will run from July 16-23, and more than 5,000 Indigenous teens are expected to participate, playing in teams representing every Canadian province and territory and up to 13 U.S. regions.
The Canadian government and the Ontario government each provided $3.5 million in funding for the games to support Canadian Indigenous sport development and recreation.
CBC/Radio-Canada is the premier media partner for this year's games.