Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to announce to this Assembly that the 2018 Arctic Winter Games hosted by Hay River, Fort Smith, and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation were an overwhelming success!
That’s not just my opinion, I’ve heard it from many other residents of the South Slave, from members of the various national and international delegations, and from the Arctic Winter Games International Committee – who have seen their share of Games.
I’m sure the other MLAs who were able to spend the entire week in the South Slave would also agree with me. Minister Cochrane spent time in both Hay River and Fort Smith during the games and I know for a fact that was impressed with she saw. The Premier also spent the week in Hay River, and every time I saw him, it sure looked like he was enjoying himself, especially when he capped off the week by presenting the gold ulus to both of Team NT’s male hockey teams, one of which included his very own grandson.
Mr. Speaker, the success of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games redefined the very notion of who can host the Games. Essentially, the South Slave was a testing ground used to determine whether or not smaller communities could host the Games, and guess what – it can be done, and it can be done in spectacular fashion.
However, there is one caveat: if small communities want to host the games, they need dedicated volunteers, and lots of them. According to Greg Rowe, the President of the South Slave Host Society, volunteers are the “heart and soul” of the Games. Luckily, the South Slave has a big heart. Between Hay River and Fort Smith, there were fifteen-hundred volunteers. Mr. Speaker, that’s over 20% of the combined population of both communities: that’s absolutely amazing. Some people were only able to pick up a handful of volunteer shifts, but did what they could. Some people took leave from their jobs to volunteer full time. Some people worked all day then volunteered all evening. It was not uncommon to hear about volunteers putting in 10, 12, or 16 hour a days, every day.
And then, Mr. Speaker, there are the people who put in 4 years. I’m speaking of course, of the Host Society Board of Directors. Without their efforts, the Games would have never made their way to the South Slave in the first place. For their efforts, earlier today the Host Society was presented with the NWT Outstanding Volunteer Award for a group, and rightly so.
So, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Assembly to join me in thanking all of the volunteers for making the 2018 Arctic Winter Games such a great success.