AWG committee visit upcoming

Organizers hope supporters turns out in droves

Sarah Ladik | HAY RIVER
January 27, 2015
Hay River's bid committee chair Greg Rowe says the inukshuk may not be specific to the region, but this particular inukshuk - a legacy of the Pine Point Arctic Winter Games in the 1970s - holds a lot of history. - Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo

Hay River’s bid committee chair Greg Rowe says the inukshuk may not be specific to the region, but this particular inukshuk – a legacy of the Pine Point Arctic Winter Games in the 1970s – holds a lot of history. – Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo

The group deciding who will host the 2018 Arctic Winter Games will touch down next week and organizers hope to be overwhelmed by the welcome they receive.

“Really, the biggest thing for the games is the pride we can show for our region,” said bid committee chair Greg Rowe. “I got involved with the games when I was 13 years old, and it’s meant so much to me and so many other people . This is a chance to give back to the circumpolar world that has hosted us over the years.”

The selection committee will be travelling first to Fort Smith and then to Hay River for the afternoon and evening. In addition to visiting some of the proposed locations, including the Princess Alexandra Middle School gym for a gymnastics display and the track where the snowshoe races will be held, the group will be treated to a pep rally and meet and greet.

The pep rally will take place 5:30 on Jan. 29 at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre to be followed by a dinner hosted by the Ptarmigan where business owners and community members will have a chance to talk to the members of the international committee.

“The main factor is to showcase the amazing volunteers,” said Rowe. “It’s been a great experience so far, and the show we have prepared for them is going to knock their socks off.”

Rowe said the biggest concern he has heard from people is about the need for 2,000 volunteers to staff the games. However, he praised Heather Coakwell and Jason Coakwell — the pair in charge or volunteer recruitment for the proposed games — for their plan to do things a little differently. At the last games Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska, Rowe said each volunteer was required to put in 12 hours. Hay River’s proposal would ask for 24 instead, reducing the number of people needed.

“Hay River volunteers do 12 hours in the course of a weekend,” said Rowe, “spread out over the course of a week and more for set-up and tear-down.”

He also noted the split would be about 800 volunteers in Fort Smith to 1,200 in Hay River, sharing the burden.

“And we can’t forget this is a regional bid,” he said. “KFN is very involved, as is Enterprise, and we’ve spoken to people in Fort Providence too.”

The plans have also been presented to and accepted by both town councils, including proposed budgets. While the cost of the games is pinned at about $7 million, the GNWT is expected to pitch $3.5 million and the federal government a further $1 million.

“We are super excited to be hosting the international committee,” said Mayor Andrew Cassidy. “We’re optimistic about our plans and we’ve put in a really solid proposal. The last thing we need to do to secure the games is to have a great showing at the pep rally on Thursday and really show them we want it.”