A Celebration of Northern Spirit
A moment of disappointment led to the development of the Arctic Winter Games, a biennial competition providing a forum where athletes from around the circumpolar North compete on their own terms and their own turf.
In 1967, Team Yukon financial advisor Cal Miller and Stuart Hodgson, Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, were in Quebec for the Canada Winter Games. Both were disappointed that more experienced southern athletes had outplayed their respective teams.
Miller came up with the idea of creating games for the North. Hodgson and Yukon Commissioner James Smith discussed the idea with Arthur Laing, Canada’s Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and Alaska Governor Walter Hickel, all of whom liked it. The first Games were hosted in 1970 in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories with the founding partners of Alaska, Yukon Territory, and Northwest Territories.
The Arctic Winter Games has grown to include additional partners Northern Alberta, Greenland, and Nunavut, and guest units, Nunavik-Quebec, Yamal from within the Russian Federation, and Sapmi consisting of indigenous athletes from Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Arctic Winter Games athletes compete in 19 sports including Dene games, Arctic Sports, dog mushing, curling, basketball, Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, volleyball, futsal, hockey, curling and others. The Arctic Winter Games are also a showcase for the Cultural performers representing each contingent who come together to learn from one another and to celebrate Northern spirit and friendship.
Spanning two-thirds across the circumpolar North, the Arctic Winter Games embrace athletic competitions popular worldwide alongside traditional Aboriginal events, the diversity and cultural uniqueness of all participants, and social interaction that strengthens awareness, understanding, and pride in the North.
— Danny Martin and John Rodda