The first-ever World Indigenous Nations Games, set to take place in Winnipeg in 2012, have been cancelled.
The city was unanimously awarded the 10-day cultural and multi-sporting event by the WIN games board of directors in January 2008.
However, organizers have run into several challenges.
They could not secure federal funding and had trouble pinning down how many countries and athletes would participate, said Jeff Hnatiuk, chair of the WIN games steering committee and CEO of Sport Manitoba.
“As time got closer and closer, from a host planning perspective there was obviously a lot of logistical things that need to be looked at — facilities and venues and where to host athletes and house them and those kinds of things,” he said.
It’s a tough loss economically and culturally for the city and the province and for the athletes, Hnatiuk said.
“An event like this, especially when it’s an aborginal event, was really something that Manitoba was looking forward to and I know our athletes were looking forward to,” he said.
No notice of the cancellation has yet been posted on the WIN games website.
The games, sanctioned by the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee, were expected to attract more than 3,000 participants from indigenous regions worldwide and generate an estimated $50 million in economic activity.
Manitoba’s Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson, was in New York in April 2010, where he addressed the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
“The world’s 370 million indigenous peoples have historically been united by common suffering —colonization’s grim legacy of poverty, ill health and despair,” he said at the time.
“The first-ever World Indigenous Games in 2012 are an opportunity for us to unite instead around common hope for a better future through the unifying power of sport and culture.”