Arctic Winter Games – Opening Ceremony

March 10, 2024

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First, I would like to say how honoured I am to be here surrounded by the beauty and resilience of this remarkable region.

I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered here today on the ancestral land of the Dena’ina and Ahtna Dene, who have stewarded this area of Benteh and Nuutah for thousands of years.

As an Inuk, raised in Canada’s Arctic, I am proud to be here to witness the incredible talent, determination and spirit you each bring from northern communities.

It’s wonderful to see representatives from so many different nations and peoples here with us today. I’m proud to see many Indigenous communities represented here, including a lot of young faces, from Canada and across the circumpolar region. 

The Arctic Winter Games are so important for us. For more than 50 years, they have helped us show the entire world how accomplished, diverse and united northern peoples are. They inspire collaboration between Arctic and non-Arctic nations; between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.  But beyond sport, they bring people together to celebrate co-operation and cultural exchange. They give us an opportunity to learn from one another, understand each other, and work together to address common challenges that face the Arctic region.

What an incredible opportunity to come together and showcase your talents, share your stories and celebrate your achievements on an international stage.

I often use the word ajuinnata, a word that has great meaning for Inuit. It means persevering in the face of obstacles. It means to never give up. You never gave up as you worked tirelessly, honing your skills and pushing the boundaries of what you thought possible to get here.

Over the coming days you will showcase your incredible talents and make your respective communities proud. You will inspire not only those watching but also the next generation of athletes who dream of competing here one day.

You never gave up as you worked tirelessly honing your skills, and pushing the boundaries of what you thought possible to get here.

I would like to take a moment to recognize the selfless and committed coaches. You are mentors, motivators and role models. You have guided these athletes, nurturing their talents and instilling discipline, determination and teamwork, not only in sport but in life.

To the families of the athletes: you are the pillars of support providing love, encouragement and understanding. You have empowered them to overcome obstacles, push their limits and embrace the spirit of sportsmanship. Your contributions are instrumental to their success.

I would also like to thank all of the volunteers, organizers and staff for your contributions, and for making this important event a reality.

Congratulations to all the athletes on their participation and good luck for the days ahead.

Thank you.