In January 2016, the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Host Society welcomed more than 100 entries from Indigenous youth across Ontario for the Official Mascot Design Contest for Toronto 2017 NAIG. Representing the rich culture and heritage of the Indigenous communities across the Province of Ontario as host to the 9th North American Indigenous Games, one design was chosen as the official mascot for the Games.
About Debwe – Official Mascot of Toronto 2017 NAIG
The name ‘Debwe’ (pronounced DAY-BH-WAY) comes from the anishinaabe language, meaning ‘the one who speaks the truth’. Reflecting his home community of Deer Lake First Nation located in North-Western Ontario, Debwe’s Oji-Cree roots inspired his journey to becoming the official mascot of Toronto 2017 NAIG.
Home Community: Deer Lake First Nation, Ontario
Hobbies: Playing lacrosse, hand drumming and meeting new friends from across Turtle Island!
Family: In the 7 Grandfather Teachings, the turtle is said to reflect ‘truth’ and the act of being true to oneself, to others and in all that you do! Truth also guides reconciliation initiatives across Canada and is a key principle of Team 88.
Debwe is proud to represent his heritage (coming from Northwestern Ontario!), Team 88 and all athletes, participants and spectators of Toronto 2017 NAIG from across Turtle Island!
About the Artist – Anton, Deer Lake First Nation, Ontario
Anton is a 14 year old youth from Deer Lake First Nation, ON, located approximately 180 kilometres north of Red Lake, Ontario. Deer Lake First Nation is a small oji-cree community with a on-reserve population of approximately 1,100. Deer Lake First Nation is accessible only by air and by ice road during the winter months.
Celebrating his oji-cree community and heritage, Anton submitted his design for the Official Mascot of Toronto 2017 NAIG with a focus on the hope and opportunity sport provides for Indigenous communities across Turtle Island. Focusing on the positive outcomes and unifying power that sport and culture provides to his peers, Anton created a design based on the traditional teachings of the 7 Grandfather Teachings. With the goal of providing hope and inspiration to his community and Indigenous youth across Turtle Island, Anton’s mascot design was chosen in celebration of the important life lessons that can be learned by engaging in sport and celebrating culture.