Marcia Trudeau and MP Adam Vaughan at the one-year countdown ceremony in Toronto on July 15, 2016, for the 2017 NAIG.

Marcia Trudeau and MP Adam Vaughan at the one-year countdown ceremony for the 2017 NAIG, in Toronto on July 15, 2016. Photo courtesy of Abidah Shirazi.

By Sam Laskaris

TORONTO—A woman from the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island has been appointed to head up the most prestigious Aboriginal multi-sport sports competition.

Earlier this month, Marcia Trudeau began working as the CEO of the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games Host Society. This organization will host the North America Indigenous Games (NAIG), expected to attract more than 5,000 athletes to Toronto in July 2017.

In order to accept her new position, Trudeau had to leave her position as the Strategic Investments Officer with the United Chiefs and Councils of Mindoo Minising. She held that position working out of M’Chicheeng First Nation, since January 2013.

With her new job, Trudeau will be spending weekdays at an office in Mississauga and when possible, travelling home on weekends. She described her position as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

But Trudeau had numerous discussions with her fiancé Saul on whether to accept the job. That’s because he will remain in Wikwemikong with their two young children, five-year-old Olive-Marie and two-year-old Lauren.

“Through the whole process we had discussions what it would be like and if it we could manage,” Trudeau said. “[Saul] had nothing but support for it.”

The couple is also planning for another significant event – their wedding this coming September.

The NAIG, which was first held in 1990 in Edmonton, Alberta, has been staged on seven other occasions since then, in various locations in Canada and the United States. The Games have been held with as little as two years and as many as six years between competitions.

Next year’s Games; however, will mark the first time they have been staged in eastern Canada.

“It’s huge in the sense it is not just another sporting competition,” Trudeau said.

As in previous Games, the 2017 event will also include a cultural village. This village will feature numerous Aboriginal artisans and vendors and nightly entertainment.

On July 15, event organizers held an official one-year countdown ceremony in Toronto for next year’s Games.

The Host Society also has a countdown clock on its website featuring days, hours, minutes and seconds until the kickoff of the Games.

“We’re very cognizant those days are going to wind down pretty quick,” Trudeau said.

So what part of her latest gig is Trudeau most looking forward to?

“All of it, all of the preparations,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the planning for the legacy of the Games and the Games itself. And also all of the special events, programs, and functions we will have leading up to the Games.”

For Trudeau, this will mark the third time she has been involved with the NAIG.

She was working as the Communications and Community Development Director for the national Aboriginal Sport Circle when the 2008 Games were staged in Cowichan, British Columbia. She was then part of the Team Ontario mission staff for the last Games, which were held in 2014 in Regina, Saskatchewan.