Urban Strategy

ISWO has grown considerably over the last four years and has expanded its programming from a heavy emphasis on competitive and recreational sport, to a much broader portfolio encompassing aspects of Indigenous cultural knowledge, youth leadership and additional opportunities for competitive based sport (i.e. NAIG, Masters Indigenous Games). ISWO is committed to Indigenous wellness, through a variety of regional and national programs focused on sport, physical activity, cultural practices and knowledge, youth leadership, and community development.

ISWO has undertaken a comprehensive review of the populations and communities it serves, to determine the varying needs and requirements that exist across Ontario for Indigenous peoples. Through this review process, it has been identified that of the more than 300,000 Indigenous Peoples who reside in Ontario, approximately half live in urban centres and not within one of the 133 First Nation communities. With such a large percentage of the Indigenous population living in urban centres, ISWO determined it was a priority to develop and implement an Urban Indigenous Strategy, through the lens of sport, culture and wellness.

As part of this strategy and in order to better understand the needs of the Indigenous Peoples residing in urban areas, ISWO has engaged partners such as Friendship Centres, Urban Indigenous Organizations, Parks and Recreation Ontario, Canadian Sport for Life, Community Sport Councils of Ontario, local sport, recreation and wellness organizations, and the municipalities themselves, to develop opportunities that are well-integrated and aligned with existing programs and initiatives.


Over the last year, ISWO has identified four urban centres as ‘pilots’ for the planning, development, coordination and implementation of its Urban Indigenous Strategy. The four urban centres are:

  • Ottawa
  • Sudbury
  • Thunder Bay
  • Toronto

Each of these four urban centers has a varying degree of relationship with ISWO, with the understanding that although the specific development pathway for each centre will be somewhat different – depending on the level of the pre-existing relationship with ISWO, the readiness of the municipality to support the strategy, particular challenges present within each centre, and the resources available for allocation from both the municipality and ISWO – the overall trajectory, phases of development, strategy and deliverables, will be  very similar.


An critical aspect of the Urban Indigenous Strategy is the identification and engagement of complimentary partners, who have the capacity, similar values and interest in collaborating to support Indigenous Peoples through sport, culture and leadership.

A broad list of potential partners to engage would include representation from the following sectors and organizations:

  • City or Municipal Offices, Council, Committees or Departments
  • Indigenous Organizations within the Urban Centre (i.e. Health Services, Family and Cultural Services, Friendship Centres, etc.)
  • Local Sport Organizations with a broad mandate to support sport opportunity for diverse populations (i.e. Toronto Sport Council)
  • University or Post-Secondary Institutions
  • Youth Leadership Committee affiliated with the City or Municipality
  • Indigenous and Protocol Committees affiliated with the City or Municipality
  • Local Health and Wellness Partners, preferably Indigenous (i.e. Wabano Centre in Ottawa, Anishnawbe Health Toronto, etc.)
  • Local School Board(s) (i.e. Toronto District School Board)
  • Indigenous Focused Schools (i.e. First Nations High School in Toronto)
  • Indigenous business organizations and corporations

For more information about ISWO’s Urban Indigenous Strategy or if your organization or municipality is interested in collaborating, please send an email to Christina.Ruddy@iswo.ca.