Mr. Speaker, can you feel it? Can you feel the excitement? It’s in the air, because the 2018 Arctic Winter Games are almost here! The towns of Hay River and Fort Smith have been busy for the past three years, getting ready for the 25th Arctic Winter Games, and now, the final preparations are being made, to put on what will undoubtedly be the biggest and best event this Territory has seen in the past decade, and that’s being modest.

We’re less than a week away from the opening ceremonies on March 18th at the Hay River Recreation Centre. Mr. Speaker, what a way to break in the brand new rec centre. And when I say brand new, I mean brand new – it opens tomorrow. And, Mr. Speaker, it’s a thing of beauty – the new facility is undeniably the most beautiful sports and rec centre in the NWT, and is reason enough to make the trip to Hay River.

The opening ceremonies will be a spectacular that you don’t want to miss. But that’s just one of the many things to see and do during the week-long Games.
Do you like sports? There’ll be badminton, ski biathlon, snowshoe biathlon, Dene games, dog mushing, futsal, gymnastics, hockey, snowshoeing, volleyball, wrestling – I’m still going, Mr. Speaker – there’ll be Arctic sports, basketball, cross country skiing, curling, figure skating, snowboarding, speed skating, and table tennis. Hay River is hosting eleven events, and Fort Smith hosting nine.

There will be competitors from Nunavut, Yukon, Nunavik, Northern Alberta, Greenland, Alaska, Yamal, Russia, Sápmi, and of course, the Northwest Territories. The 353 members of Team NT include athletes, coaches, mission staff, and cultural performers, and I have to give a special shout out to the participants from Hay River North: athletes Trey Beck, Riella Bordey, Nicole Griffiths, Layne Leonard, Chandelle Leonard, and coach Therese Fordy.

If sports aren’t your thing, that’s not a problem, Mr. Speaker, because each contingent is bringing cultural delegates that will showcase cultures and talents from around the Circumpolar World. There will be daily cultural performances in Fort Smith, and a Cultural Gala on March 23rd at Fort Smith’s Catholic Cathedral. The Arctic Winter Games Marketplace will be held at the Chief Sunrise School gym at the Kátł’odeeche First Nation Reserve, and it will be a must see. There will also be a number of exhibits and workshops in both communities that you don’t want to miss.

There’s going to be a lot to see, so don’t forget to bring your camera, and when you’re taking your selfie with #Kechi, the AWG mascot, don’t forget to wear your official Arctic Winter Games gear, available at stores throughout the South Slave.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, thank you to the host society, the sponsors, and all the volunteers who are making these Games a reality, and of course, good luck to all the athletes.

So come one, come all, and #FindYourPower, at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games!
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.