The Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle began the year with a small tour of the territory, bringing traditional sports equipment to both Dawson City and Old Crow.
It would appear the initiative is already paying dividends.
The Sport Circle Held its Arctic Winter Games team trials for the Dene Games and Arctic Games at Elijah Smith School over the weekend. Not only did the trials draw twice the athletes that attended the Yukon Championships in November, after two days of competition, athletes from Whitehorse, Haines Junction, Teslin, Marsh Lake and even two from Old Crow were selected.
“Our purpose, our raison d’etre, was to get to these communities and still will be,” said Greg Edgelow, executive director of the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle.
“Having four or five different communities shows that our mandate is working. Especially with the fact that we were just up in Old Crow and we had such an interest there from the youth.
“We’re finding that the youth are craving sport and traditional sport is a great opportunity and avenue for these kids to let out all this energy, aggression and talent. There’s so much raw talent.”
Edgelow, who began his work with the Sport Circle in September, cannot help but think in the long term, considering March’s Arctic Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta, as a test-run for 2012, when Whitehorse hosts the Games.
“One of the things we have to look at for this year is that this is an opportunity to see where we stand, so going into 2012 (Arctic Winter Games) we have a better idea of how well we may perform,” said Edgelow.
Aside from delivering the traditional sports equipment to communities and schools in the Yukon, the Sports Circle is working towards having Dene and Arctic Games incorporated into school curriculums.
“We are putting that equipment in every school in the territory,” said Edgelow. “We’re developing a manual we’ll be supplying to education departments and giving to all the schools. We have funding to help get (Dene and Arctic Games) incorporated into the schools.
“So the kids can use it everyday like a basketball hoop. That’s our vision, to see kickstands (Arctic Games apparatus) used everyday.
“If we can get our kids doing that every day, then we’ll become a powerhouse.”
Yukon can send four athletes for each division for the Dene Games, so a spot in the open male division remains unfilled. Spots are also available on the Arctic Games team in the junior female and male divisions.
“We may not fill them because of numbers,” said Edgelow.
Dene Games selections
Justine Benjamin (Old Crow)
Meagan Blake (Whitehorse)
Elisha Sembsmoen (Haines Junction)
Laura Mackinnon (Haines Junction)
Jeffrey Diment (Whitehorse)
Nathanial Schafer (Old Crow)
Bily Smarch (Teslin)
Daniel Frost-Reed (Whitehorse)
Natane Primozic (Haines Junction)
Teah Dicksoon (Whitehorse)
Taylor Vallevand (Whitehorse)
Madison Allen (Haines Junction)
Doronn Fox (Whitehorse)
Donald Tuton (Whitehorse)
Mike Evans (Haines Junction)
Trey Charlie (Old Crow)
Jasmine Corothers (Whitehorse)
Arctic Games selections
Anna Rivard (Whitehorse)
Corey Baxter (Whitehorse)
Patty Wallingham (Whitehorse)
Tyler Wynnyk (Marsh Lake)
Dustin Wilkinson (Whitehorse)
Tom Fulop (Whitehorse)
Jordan Howse (Marsh Lake)
Myles Nakoyak (Whitehorse)
Ken Hubbard (Whitehorse)
To be announced
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org