Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I recently had the pleasure of representing the Government of the Northwest Territories at the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse along with my colleagues Premier Kakfwi, Minister Allen and MLAs Paul Delorey, David Krutko and Michael McLeod. The Arctic Winter Games provided us with an important opportunity to meet with and learn about our neighbours from around the circumpolar region. Every two years, the games help foster friendship and cooperation among all participating contingents.
The Northwest Territories contingent in Whitehorse included over 300 athletes, coaches, cultural delegates and mission staff. All members of Team NWT were excellent ambassadors for the Northwest Territories.
Team NWT turned in a strong performance and demonstrated outstanding commitment and sportsmanship. Northwest Territories athletes participated in 17 of the 19 sports that were part of the Arctic Winter Games this year. Our team brought home 42 gold, 29 silver and 37 bronze ulus. Our total of 108 ulus put us in second place overall, behind Team Alaska with 174 ulus.
But our success cannot be measured in ulus alone. I would like to congratulate all the members of Team NWT. They all showed great determination in their competitions and each athlete did their very best. We can be proud of the whole team.
I would also like to congratulate the parents, coaches and volunteers across the Northwest Territories. The dedicated support you provide to our young athletes is an important part of their success, Without your efforts, our athletes would not have the opportunities that they do to participate in events like the Arctic Winter Games.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to share some of Team NWT's successes with my fellow Members today:
- • Eleven year-old Jason Baxter of Inuvik won three medals in dog mushing, including two gold and one silver. The silver ulu was in a team event and was shared with Jordee James-McQueen of Yellowknife;
- • Our speed skating team won a total of 34 ulus, leading all other speed skating teams;
- • Our wrestling team won 11 medals, second only to a powerful team from Alaska;
- • Our hockey teams played in three gold medal games, bringing home silver in midget, bantam and peewee hockey;
- • Our women's team also brought home the bronze in their tournament;
- • Twelve year-old Janesta McLeod of Aklavik and ten year-old Jennifer Waugh of Yellowknife were the youngest team ever to win an ulu in badminton. They won bronze in the juvenile ladies doubles;
- • As always, one of the most popular events was the Arctic sports and Dene games. Team NWT won a total of 23 ulus, including 11 gold, three silver and nine bronze.
We finished in second place, just behind Alaska in the overall medal count. This was a remarkable accomplishment when you consider that previous Northwest Territories teams always had good representation from the Eastern Arctic in the Arctic sports category.
During the opening ceremonies for the Dene games, I had the pleasure to introduce a new Dene games resource, called Dene Games: A Culture and Resource Manual. This manual describes the role of the traditional games in Dene culture and how the games are played. The resource is part of a traditional games series which includes an Arctic sports manual that was launched during the 1998 Arctic Winter Games.
Two new manuals on snowshoeing and Inuit wrestling are already in development. A number of partners have been involved in these projects, including the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, Aurora College, Sport North, The Mackenzie Regional Recreation Association and the Government of the Yukon. These resources have been well received by everybody who has seen them.
Mr. Speaker, the opportunity to participate in the Arctic Winter Games is an important experience for young athletes all across the Northwest Territories. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs will continue to work with community governments, Sport North and other partner organizations, such as the Aboriginal Sport Circle, to improve opportunities for participation for all Northwest Territories athletes.
I would like to invite all Members to join me now in congratulating Team NWT. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.