Indigenous Sport in Manitoba

Indigenous sport in Manitoba is rich with a history that spans centuries. Traditional games, deeply rooted in cultural practices, have evolved alongside modern sports, reflecting the enduring spirit of Indigenous communities.

Indigenous athletes in Manitoba continue to excel today, competing locally and globally, while coaches and leaders play vital roles in nurturing talent and celebrating diversity. This ongoing legacy of athleticism and resilience remains a source of inspiration for Indigenous and non-Indigenous athletes alike.


  • 1971
    • The Native Summer Games were held in Enoch, Alberta.
      • The event drew 3,000 participants competing in 13 sports and many cultural events.

  • 1973
    • The Western Canada Native Winter Games were hosted on the Blood Reserve in Kainai, Alberta.
      • The large event drew thousands of visitors.

  • 1975
    • a meeting of the National Indian Athletic Association was held in Reno, Nevada.
      • Here, it was decided to organize Games for Indigenous Peoples. John Fletcher, a Peigan from Edmonton, Alberta, and Willie Littlechild, a Cree of the Ermineskin Tribe at Hobbema, Alberta, attended; John Fletcher is credited for his support in the decision to have the Games, as presented by Mr. Littlechild, based on the above success.

  • 1977
    • The dream to host large scale Indigenous Games took another step forward in Sweden at the Annual Assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.
      • Willie Littlechild presented the motion to host International Indigenous Games. It was unanimously passed. A Brazilian elder was so moved, he presented Willie Littlechild with a war arrow representing peace in his tribe. Advising it be pointed to the ground, this arrow would direct anything evil toward the underground. It is now part of the sacred ceremonial run.

  • 1988
    • Manitoba Aboriginal Sports & Recreation Council was established.
      • The Manitoba Métis Federation and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs recognized a void in the coordination, development, and implementation of a sound sport and recreation system in Manitoba that addressed and met the needs of the Indigenous communities in the Province.

        Community leaders saw the need to help our Indigenous people to develop their body, mind and spirit to their full capacity for overall wellness. They believed that the many sport events, recreational and cultural activities at the local, regional, national and international levels required cooperation and leadership. They had in mind sport competition, recreation activities, and traditional Indigenous cultural practices. This type of leadership and encouragement was, and still is, believed to help our youth follow their dreams and continue living this holistic lifestyle throughout their lives.

        The founders realized that the coordination of a team of individuals, Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations, government partners, sponsors, volunteers, and participants was a major requirement in an effort to overcome the challenges and remove barriers to ensure full participation at any level and in any capacity.

  • 1990
    • First North American Indigenous Games were hosted in Edmonton, Alberta.
      • The first ever NAIG were held in Edmonton, Alberta. It attracted approximately 3000 sport participants and numerous cultural performers from Indigenous communities across Canada and the northwestern United States.

  • 1994
    • The MASRC was formally incorporated.
      • Since then, the MASRC has grown to a permanent staff of 15, to serve the entire province of Manitoba.

  • 1999
    • First Manitoba Indigenous Games were hosted by Opaskwayak Cree Nation.
      • Since 1999, the Manitoba Indigenous Summer Games (MISG) provided Aboriginal athletes, coaches and officials in Manitoba the opportunity to fully participate in their own multi-sport competition. It emphasized active participation in sporting competition for our Aboriginal youth regardless of sport specific skill levels, age and gender. Sport competition was one of the many goals of which participants took advantage. Opportunities to meet new friends, develop social interaction skills and gain valuable educational experiences in the diverse cultural and traditional practices found in the Aboriginal population were all found equally valuable, if not more important, than competition alone.

  • 2002
    • First National Aboriginal Hockey Championships
      • The National Aboriginal Hockey Championship (NAHC) is an annual event that provides a forum for elite Indigenous hockey players throughout Canada.Team Manitoba is represented by two teams, one male and one female which are both comprised of the bantam and midget age athletes from across Manitoba.

        The event aids in fostering cultural unity and pride and celebrates the athletic abilities of Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) athletes from across the country. This is great exposure for players to be evaluated by scouts from Canada and the USA, and it gives the participants new skills and experiences that will take them further in hockey, and in life.

  • 2020
    • Indigenous Sport Decade Winners Announced
      • Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MASRC decided to celebrate Indigenous Manitobans from the past decade that had positively influenced sport in our province.

  • 2022
    • The Manitoba Indigenous Sports Hall of Fame & Museum was formally created.
      • The Manitoba Indigenous Sports Hall of Fame & Virtual Museum was established to publicly document the countless ways in which Indigenous peoples have served as athletes, coaches, and builders in the province of Manitoba.

        Through this platform, we hope to preserve stories of excellence, commitment, tenacity and passion to better educate Canadians about the contributions Indigenous peoples have made to the world of sport.

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