Flaming Winter Games breaks out at Elijah Smith

A flaming torch was passed around by students of Elijah Smith Elementary School, Tuesday afternoon. The torch passing is part of a celebration…

A flaming torch was passed around by students of Elijah Smith Elementary School, Tuesday afternoon.

The torch passing is part of a celebration of  pan-northern spirit that is heating up as the 2007 Canada Winter Games draw near.

This torch was one of three — one for each territory — that began a northern journey in Alert, Northwest Territories.

The Yukon torch was the one that visited Whitehorse. In total, the torches will visit 83 northern communities, traveling almost 100,000 kilometres in 45 days.

This one will return to Whitehorse just in time for the Canada Winter Games.

As part of the ceremony, a luncheon was held at the Nakwataku Potlatch House.

The gathering featured young Elijah Smith School Dancers, who demonstrated traditional First Nation dancing and singing.

Dorron Fox, a 17-year-old pan-North traditional and Dene Games athlete will be competing at the Canada Winter Games.

He’s ready for the Games and “can’t wait to win some medals,” he said during the luncheon.

Fox competes in many events, but his specialties are stick gambling and the snow snake.

“He’s a great athlete, one of the most dedicated,” said Dean Mastrangelo, executive director of the Yukon Aboriginal Sports Circle.

“He should be medaling in the snow snake.” 

After the luncheon, Elijah Smith students carried the caribou antler torch from the potlatch house to their school, where the students, teachers and representatives from the Vancouver Olympic Committee were waiting to greet them with applause.

John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver committee, was visiting Whitehorse and taking part in the torch ceremony to observe how the city is preparing to host the Canada Winter Games.

“To some degree we’re here out of respect … the athletes of the Canada Winter Games are the athletes that will eventually be on the Olympic team,” said Furlong.

“Some of the best Olympians have started their rise to stardom at the Canada Winter Games and gone on to Olympic teams.”

Pam Boyde, pan-North chair of the torch relay committee, gave an inspirational speech, encouraging students to get excited about the Canada Winter Games by participating in the torch relay and adopting the spirit of the Games into their hearts.

“The torch is a way for everybody in the North to touch a part of the Canada Winter Games,” said Boyde.

Once the torch was placed at the school, the children, Grades 1 through 6, sang O  Canada just as if they were medal winners at the Olympics.

Following that, Grade 5 and Grade 6 students played some of the traditional games that will be played at the Canada Winter Games.

The children danced on their knees to the beat of drums while they stick gambled against each other.

There were smiles on all of their faces.