ISWO’s Back At It: a Busy Year of Tryouts, Tournaments, Championships and Major Games in Store for 2023
ISWO’S BACK AT IT: A BUSY YEAR OF TRYOUTS, TOURNAMENTS, CHAMPIONSHIPS AND MAJOR GAMES IN STORE FOR 2023
After a couple of challenging years dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic, ISWO (the designated Indigenous sport body for Ontario), is back to hosting sport programs, events, tournaments and Games, in addition to getting a contingent ready for the 2023 NAIG. It may well be ISWO’s busiest year to date – but no one’s complaining.
Mississauga, Ontario – January 26, 2023 – Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) is back in full swing, with a slew of tryouts, camps, programs, tournaments, championships, events, and major games all scheduled to take place this year. It’s shaping up to be one of the busiest years in ISWO’s history, but no one’s complaining. After having in-person sports, leadership programs, cultural camps and events on pause for more than two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a calendar chock full of opportunities for Indigenous youth, adults and families – is simply incredible.
With the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) taking place in Halifax this year, Ontario is set to take a contingent of approximately 535 strong, including athletes, coaches and team managers. The process of coordinating tryouts for 15 sports, across multiple age divisions and genders, in a province as large as Ontario – is no easy feat. This year, ISWO is aiming to make the process even more equitable and accessible by having on-line tryouts available for all sports, with athletes able to submit a full application including: a sports resume, references from coaches, awards and distinctions won, and even the opportunity to upload times, videos and highlight reels. In-person tryouts are also taking place in all regions of the province, from north to south, east to west.
“It’s been quite an endeavour trying to coordinate all of these tryouts,” says Gary Lynch, Manager of Sport & Athlete Development for ISWO. “The sheer size of Ontario and the number of communities, not to mention the number of sports and divisions, it’s really quite staggering and there’s so much to do (in addition to our regular programming). From working with our NAIG coaches and team managers, ensuring venues and staff are in place to help facilitate, to identifying and selecting athletes – it’s a long process – but one we’re so excited about. We’ve seen incredible talent and we can’t wait to announce the athletes that will be representing Team Ontario at the 2023 NAIG in Halifax; this is really the pinnacle event in the sport pathway for Indigenous athletes and it means so much to so many.”
Tryout locations were selected based on centrality to a high number of communities, ease of access, venue availability, and location within Ontario, overall. The ISWO team is very committed to ensuring that any youth who wants to tryout, has the opportunity to do so, whether in-person or online.
In addition to Team Ontario tryouts for the 2023 NAIG, ISWO is also gearing up for the 2023 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC), set to take place from May 7-13 in Winnipeg,
Manitoba. Following great results in 2022, that led to a gold victory for the men’s team and a silver for the women’s team, ISWO is once again turning to its process of online applications (Expression of Interest) for NAHC. The Expression of Interest form provides enough details for coaches and general managers to be able to select the very best athletes from across the province to represent Team Ontario at the NAHC, and it’s accessible to everyone in Ontario; not everyone has the ability to physically attend a tryout and with a province as large as Ontario, so this is a win-win. ISWO will be hosting one NAHC tryout in the North on February 25th in Nipigon, Ontario, as well as one in the South – with details to be confirmed in the coming weeks. The NAHC online application (Expression of Interest) and registration for the Northern NAHC tryout, will be available in the coming days – both may be accessed via the ISWO website (iswo.ca). The deadline to submit an expression of interest for the 2023 NAHC is March 6.
As if the tryouts aren’t enough, ISWO is also hosting three provincial tournaments in the lead-up to NAIG: the Ontario Native Basketball Invitational (ONBI), the Ontario Native Volleyball Invitational (ONVI), and for the first-time, the Ontario Native Lacrosse Invitational (ONLI). These tournaments, which are always high-caliber community events with great competition, draw hundreds of youths and dozens of teams from across the province. This year, organizers are expecting even larger numbers and greater interest, as they will act as athlete identifiers for the 2023 NAIG, and a chance for athletes to brush-up on their competition skills, prior to the big event this July.
The 2023 ONBI will be taking place from February 25-27, in Sudbury, Ontario; registration is now open and the deadline to register is February 10. Coaches are able to register their teams, but will need to fill out the coaches form and be approved, prior to adding team rosters and paying the fee. For more information and to register, visit: onbi.iswo.ca.
The 2023 ONVI will take place from March 3-5, in Thunder Bay, Ontario; registration is now open and the deadline to register is February 17. For more information and to register, visit: onvi.iswo.ca.
And don’t forget to save the date for the first ever, Ontario Native Lacrosse Invitational (ONLI), to be held the first weekend of April; registration is set to open at the end of January. The provincial level tournament will take place at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena, in the community of Six Nations of the Grand River. For more information, please visit: iswo.ca.
All three provincial tournaments are open to Indigenous youth residing in Ontario, for the following age divisions:
- 16U (born 2006 & later); and
- 19U (born 2003 & later) age categories.
ISWO is also hosting the 2023 Masters Indigenous Games (MIG), this summer from August 24-27, in Ottawa Ontario, the traditional territory and ancestral homelands of the Algonquin Nation. Registration for the MIG is now open to Indigenous adults, age 19 and older, from around the world. The Games will feature an Opening Gala; a 3-day cultural festival at Lansdowne Park, open to the public showcasing Indigenous sport and cultures from around the world; competition in 6 distinct sports (including canoe/kayak and lacrosse); and a closing ceremony. For more information and to register visit: mastersindigenousgames.com.
Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) Quick Facts:
- ISWO is the designated Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Body for the province of Ontario, primarily funded through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and the Government of Canada, through Sport Canada.
- ISWO serves all Indigenous Peoples and communities across the province of Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, living on and off-reserve, in rural and urban settings, encompassing more than 350,000 Indigenous Peoples.
- ISWO promotes and creates opportunities for participation in sport and cultural activities that promote wellness and positive lifestyles for Indigenous Peoples across Ontario.
- ISWO provides opportunities for physical literacy and competitive sport skill development and training by creating sport development pathways, designed specifically for Indigenous youth.
- ISWO is recognized by the Aboriginal Sport Circle and the North American Indigenous Games Council, and is the designated sport body for the development, selection and management of Team Ontario, which participates in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) and North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).
ISWO honours the traditional lands and homelands of all Indigenous Peoples and communities across the province of Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis living both on and off reserve, in rural and urban communities.
Director of Marketing and Communications, Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario General Manager, 2023 Masters Indigenous Games [email protected]