This year, the Halifax Convention Centre welcomed major national events for Indigenous and First Nations peoples, including the Assembly of First Nations General Assembly and the 2023 North American Indigenous Games, building allyship within our organization and community.

Building Allyship with First Nations

In May, we were honoured to host 320 Indigenous business leaders and members of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business for the CCAB Business Forum and Awards – a hybrid event that featured virtual guests from Toronto and Vancouver. For its 39th conference, the CCAB celebrated and honoured Indigenous success in business, and provided attendees with opportunities to share ideas and network with colleagues and non-Indigenous business leaders.

Assembly of First Nations

In July, the Halifax Convention Centre hosted the Assembly of First Nations General Assembly, welcoming Indigenous leader and advocates who represent more than 600 First Nations communities across Turtle Island. Over 2,300 guests assembled to discuss and enact important policies and issues impacting First Nations communities. The Assembly also included an Indigenous Marketplace with over 50 Indigenous artists and craftspeople. At the same time, we hosted the First Nations Information Governance Centre Meeting, an organization that empowers First Nations communities to manage and protect data, conduct research, and develop new opportunities for First Nations people. Following the Assembly of First Nations General Assembly, over 5,000 athletes across North America gathered at the Halifax Convention Centre, located in Mi’kma’ki, to open the 2023 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). Athletes from more than 756 nations marched with their peers from Grafton Street to Brunswick Street and down Duke Street to proceed into the Opening Ceremony at Scotiabank Centre. The procession was a ceremony of respect for athletes and the Indigenous community, a marvel to behold from Citadel Hill, and an operational and technical achievement.

"The Opening Ceremony, like most openings for major gatherings in the Indigenous community, is where the tone is set. This creates the foundation for the event or gathering. The Opening Ceremony created the expectation of celebrating Indigenous excellence, Indigenous joy, and creating an abundance of opportunities for each Nation to share their culture, language and ways of knowing and being.”

- Laura Seaboyer, Director of People, 2023 North American Indigenous Games.

In mid-October, the Native American Art Studies Association (NAASA) held its 2023 Conference in our venue for 200 artists and scholars, members of the academic community, museum professionals, and others from across Canada engaged in the study of Native American art. Over four days, 18 sessions generated knowledge and interpretive frameworks to approach work in the field and respond to colonial legacies and other histories of injustice with new forms of engagement.

To prepare our Halifax Convention Centre staff to welcome First Nation Chiefs, Elders, and Indigenous community members of all ages throughout the year, the 2023 North American Indigenous Games provided half-day training sessions to all employees on Indigenous history, culture, and traditions, including sharing ceremonial customs, land acknowledgements, and language. This training prepared employees to welcome Indigenous clients and guests with respect and awareness and create space for learning and growth as we continue our journey towards truth and reconciliation in Canada. In January, members of our teams attended Indigenous Ally Training led by Houston Barnaby, JD, of Indigenous Treaty Partners, which provided an overview of Indigenous history in Canada and steps and strategies towards reconciliation.

“Preparations for the 2023 North American Indigenous Games began more than three years ago and our goal was to include 50 per cent culture and 50 per cent Games. It was important to share, celebrate, and honour Indigenous culture, and we continue to learn how to build allyship and relationships with our Indigenous clients, colleagues, and friends at the Halifax Convention Centre.”

 - Carrie Cussons, President & CEO, Halifax Convention Centre & Board Secretary, NAIG.