July 27, 2015 - Plans to send a contingent of Aboriginal youth to Jiaozou, China is being postponed until sufficient funds to sponsor the youth can be raised.

"Unfortunately, the time frame we had to fundraise to cover the total cost of this trip was not long enough and we have not had the sponsorship support we had hoped for, so we have determined that it is in the City's best interest to postpone the trip at this time," said Ann Magiskan, Aboriginal Liaison. "We are enormously grateful for the support from the individuals, groups and organizations who have come on board and see the value in sending these youth to China to showcase our Aboriginal culture however, financially we are just not there yet."

The delegation had been invited to open Jiaozuo's International Tai Chi Festival and competitions with traditional music and dance and complete an official tour of duties representing the Aboriginal community, City of Thunder Bay and Canada.

Thunder Bay and Jiaozou have been working toward establishing a formal Sister Cities relationship.

"Sister Cities are a form of agreement between communities that are geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties and are intended to foster friendship and understanding between different cultures," said Magiskan. "Which was why Jiaozou had invited the City of Thunder Bay to bring the Aboriginal youth contingent to showcase our culture at their event," "We still see this as a valuable opportunity for promoting understanding between our communities at the international level, and are looking forward to attending Jiaozou at a later date."

The Chinese National Taiji Competition is taking place in Wenxian County, Jiaozuo China on October 12-14. It is hoped that enough funds can be raised by that time to participate in those events instead. If the trip does not proceed, funds raised so far will be returned to those who have sponsored.

"This would allow us a longer timeline prior to the trip to fundraise and perhaps create partnership agreements with First Nations Communities and apply for grants to fund the project," said Magiskan.

If interested in contributing to the initiative as a sponsor, contact the Aboriginal Liaison at 620-0072 or amagiskan@thunderbay.ca

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Contact:  Ann Magiskan, Aboriginal Liaison, 620-0072 or email amagiskan@thunderbay.ca