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Nunavut’s women’s basketball team poses for a photo at the 2014 North American Games. This year, 44 athletes will represent the territory at NAIG, including representatives from 11 communities. (Team Nunavut/Facebook) The 2017 North American Indigenous Games begin July 16, 2017, and CBC North will be on the ground in Toronto, covering athletes from the 3 territories through the competition. Before the opening ceremonies begin, CBC North will profile each territory’s contingent.

With just 44 athletes and no cultural contingent travelling to the 2017 North American Indigenous Games, Nunavut’s contingent is the smallest of the three territories, but perhaps the most prepared.

While both the Yukon and N.W.T. contingents will leave Saturday, all of Nunavut’s athletes are already in the Toronto area, taking part in mini-camps to get them acclimatized to the city and their venues, according to chef de mission Jeff Seeteenak. Nunavut’s badminton squad huddles during the 2014 NAIG, where it won four of the territory’s five medals. (Team Nunavut/Facebook) The team boasts a number of returning athletes from 2014, and will look to build on their five medal performance from those games, but Seeteenak says that each team has set its own goals for the competition, be they podium performances or otherwise.

"Teams [will look to] perform to what their goals are," he said. "If they meet their personal goals, that they’ve set within their teams, then they’ve reached them."

The territory has also managed to bring together athletes from an impressive array of communities with a relatively small contingent. Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay, Pond Inlet, Arviat, Sanikiluaq, Qikiqtarjuaq, Grise Fiord, Whale Cove, Kulguktuk, Rankin Inlet, and Gjoa Haven will all have at least one athlete competing in Toronto.

"So it’s a good mix of the territory, in that sense," said Seeteenak. By the numbers

Contingent Size: 44 athletes

Sports: badminton, basketball, volleyball

Medal history Regina 2014: four silver, one bronze, five total (14th overall)

Cowichan 2008: four silver, one bronze, five total (12th overall)

Total since 1990: 10 gold, 13 silver, four bronze, 26 total (27th overall)

Athletes to watch

Team Nunavut’s men’s volleyball team takes the court at the 2014 NAIG, where it made a run to the gold-medal game. This year, they’ll be looking to do one better, led by returning player Peter Inootik. (Team Nunavut/Facebook) Nunavut’s has historically been a tough out in the volleyball competition, and this year’s iteration should be no exception. In 2014, the territory’s under 19 men’s team made a run to the finals, ultimately dropping the gold medal match 3-1 to Saskatchewan. This year’s team should be equally formidable, and is led by Pond Inlet’s Peter Inootik, the only player returning to the squad from the 2014 edition.

In 2014, four of the territory’s five medals came in badminton, and this year’s iteration is strong and poised to add to that total. One of the medallists from 2014, Sanikiluaq’s Mina Mannuk, has returned for the 2017 Games.

Seeteenak said it’s difficult to predict how teams will finish without knowing the standard of competition.

"That’s always one of the unknowns when we go to these things," he said. "So it’s hard to tell."

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