A ceremony at Nathan Philips Square on Wednesday officially marked 88 days until the start of the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) which will take place in Toronto this summer.
Mayor John Tory officially declared April 19, 2017 as Team 88 day — a reference to the 88th of the 94 "calls to action" issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools.
The 88th call to action reads: "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."
Reconciliation will be a central theme when the 5,000 Indigenous athletes from across North America gather in our city this summer, said CBC's Duncan McCue who hosted Wednesday's event. Athletes will come from 10 provinces, three territories and nine states and will be joined by 2,000 volunteers.
"There's a buzz and excitement in the city whenever something goes on that is a demonstration of excellence in sports," said Tory, adding that Toronto is proud to host these games.
Drawing cheers from the crowd, Tory also announced that indigenous flags will now permanently fly at city hall — saying "this is something that should've been done a long time ago."
A smudging ceremony and Ojibway prayer read by elder Garry Sault of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation blessed today's event.
CBC is the official sponsor of this year's North American Indigenous Games and will provide exclusive coverage of the event, which includes competition in 14 different sports and a week-long cultural festival.
"Because of the coverage this year, many Canadians outside of Toronto and Ontario will have the opportunity to witness these exciting games," said Chief Stacey LaForme of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.
The Games take place between July 16 and 29 and will be held at various venues across the GTA and Hamilton, including Humber College, McMaster University and City of Toronto facilities.
As part of the media partnership, CBC Sports will stream at least 100 hours of live and on-demand competition coverage.
According to the CEO of the Games, Marcia Trudeau-Bomberry, all NAIG sports events will be free of charge to the public. But tickets will be sold for the opening ceremonies.