The sporting festivities continued after the Olympics because another major sporting event occurred from March 18 – 24. The 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games were co-hosted by the towns of Hay River & Fort Smith, Canada. This was the first time the games were hosted in the South Slave Region.
The AWG began in 1970 and is considered the Olympics of the circumpolar world. Athletes from nine contingents participate in the games held every two years. These contingents are: Alaska, Greenland, Northern Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavik, Nunavut, Sapmi People, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and Yukon. The games feature competitions in 18 sporting disciplines, such as: Alpine Skiing, Dene Games, Badminton, Dog Mushing, Snowboarding, and Volleyball.
This year’s mascot was the snowy owl, named Kechi, meaning ‘The Messenger’. The theme song for the games was “Be The Ones”, co-written and recorded by Canadian musician Serena Ryder. The games’ slogan this year was “Find Your Power”. And the bronze, silver, and gold medals were designed as small ulus.
|Team Nunavut: Arctic Bay contingent.|
Arctic Bay sent 16 athletes plus a coach to the AWG. They competed in a variety of sporting disciplines. Quite a few of them are current & former students of mine, as well as members of the cadet corps. Naturally, they were all very excited to be competing in the games and representing their community & territory. The official Nunavut team jackets were yellow, complemented by red, blue, & white hats & scarves that strangely resembled the Union Jack.
JF kept everyone up to date by creating a large wall display in the high school section of Inuujaq School. He posted schedules, pictures, newspaper articles, and the medal count for the Nunavut team. At the conclusion of the games, Nunavut’s medal count stood at: 15 gold, 17 Silver, and 23 Bronze. One of the gold medals was won by a student of mine, Crystal. She competed in the junior women’s snow snake competition and set a new throwing record at 335 feet!
Team Nunavut placed 7th overall. The winner of this year’s games was Alberta North with a total medal count of 133.
The Arctic Bay athletes returned to a hero’s welcome on March 28.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Welcome Back ceremony at the community hall because I was down south in Winnipeg, MB, attending a commanding officers meeting. I flew the “scenic route” to Winnipeg, stopping in Iqaluit & Ottawa first. When I was passing through Iqaluit, I saw a C-17 Globemaster parked outside on the tarmac. The C-17 most likely came from CFB Trenton, Ontario. I was travelling in my CADPAT uniform and wondered whether I could sneak onboard and convince the pilots to give me a lift to Winnipeg? Ultimately, I decided against it and boarded my First Air flight to Ottawa.
|Winnipeg Airport runway lights.|
Officers representing various corps in the Northwest Region attended the planning sessions & workshops. I happened to be the officer who travelled the furthest. Topics of learning & discussion included: recruiting staff & cadets, dispute resolution, and the Defence Ethics Program.
Flying back to Arctic Bay proved to be an adventure of its own. The original flight plan had me flying north to Churchill, Manitoba, then onwards to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, followed by flying east to Iqaluit. Everything seemed normal when the First Air plane took off into the clear blue sky. However, about halfway into the flight, the captain announced that Rankin Inlet was experiencing blizzard-like conditions. The plane still landed in Churchill but passengers travelling onwards would have to wait. The airline was hoping the weather would clear up.
This was my first time in Churchill, Manitoba. The weather was fine & sunny. I went inside the terminal and took pictures. The town is in the heart of polar bear country. A large polar bear skin on display emphasized this point. Unfortunately, the weather in Rankin Inlet did not improve and the flight was cancelled. Passengers were given the option to wait until tomorrow or board the return flight to Winnipeg. I chose the return flight. My visit to the Churchill Airport lasted 3 hours. Blizzards in Rankin Inlet tend to last a couple of days, so I didn’t want to get stranded there. Even if I did choose to continue, I wouldn’t miss any teaching days because spring break had just started.
I stayed an extra day in Winnipeg before being booked on a flight to Ottawa. From there, I flew up to Iqaluit and stayed there for three days. I spent time with my older brother and parents, who happened to be visiting the territorial capital for a week. I made sure to have a shawarma before flying back to Arctic Bay. My suitcase was filled with school supplies.