The history of the Arctic Winter Games begins in 1967, on the occasion of the Canada Winter Games in Quebec City. Stuart Hodgson and James Smith, then Commissioners of the Northwest Territories and Yukon, looked on while athletes from their jurisdiction were decisively bested in competition. The men realized that with a smaller pool of athletes and inadequate facilities and training, northern athletes couldn’t effectively compete with their southern counterparts.
Thus, the idea for the Arctic Winter Games was born and developed through discussions between the commissioners and then Governor of the State of Alaska, Walter J. Hickel. Governor Hickel embraced the concept and the Arctic Winter Games Corporation, now the Arctic Winter Games International Committee, was formed in 1968.
The first Games, held in Yellowknife in 1970, were attended by 500 athletes, participants and coaches. Originally the three participating regions were the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska. In the years that have followed, the Games have grown dramatically. Since the Games were first created, participating regions in the Games have grown from Alaska, the Northwest Territories and Yukon to include Northern Alberta, Northern Quebec (Nunavik), Nunavut, the Russian province of Yamal, Greenland and the Sami people of Norway and Finland.
With the continuing support of the governments, host communities, corporate sponsorships and thousands of individual volunteers and supporters, the Games continue to shine as an outstanding example of international amateur athletic competition, community pride and cultural exchange. From its modest beginnings, the Games have evolved and grown to the point where over 2,000 athletes, coaches, mission staff, officials and cultural performers participated in the 2006 Arctic Winter Games in Kenai, Alaska. And now, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories has been chosen to be part of this international exchange.
Come join us for the 20th Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife from March 9—15, 2008 for a “Celebration of Sport and Culture.”