Representatives from the Arctic Winter Games International Committee and the Whitehorse 2020 Arctic Winter Games Host Society were joined by officials from the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council to sign a memorandum of understanding on April 6 in Whitehorse.
The MOU is part of efforts made to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action into the games, with the stated goal of providing Yukon First Nations youth, elders and communities the opportunity to volunteer for the games, recognize and celebrate Yukon First Nations languages, cultures and traditions, and create the opportunity for Yukon First Nations elders to function as advisors for all youth.
Speaking on behalf of the host society was Nyla Klugie-Migwans, vice-president of the community engagement and protocol division.
“We really wanted to be able to have a games where we really recognized Yukon First Nations in regard to reconciliation,” said Klugie-Migwans. “Part of what we wanted to do as a community is we wanted to make these games be culturally relevant. We wanted the games to be able to provide education for truth and reconciliation.”
Klugie-Migwans added that the AWG are a prime example of the role sport can play in the reconciliation process.
“I believe that part of sports and culture and language are healing,” she said. “It’s part of wellness. It’s part of bringing our communities together. It’s part of understanding.”
Chief Kristina Kane of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council echoed the historical importance and role of sports within the community.
“Sport has always been an integral part of First Nations people (and) our history,” said Kane. “We look forward to the games next year and incorporating … cultural values into the games.”
The MOU was signed on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, a date celebrated annually since 2014 and designed to foster peace and understanding.
KDFN Coun. Sean Smith acknowledged the significance of the day in his remarks.
“Today … is a fitting day to sign the memorandum of understanding that celebrates the benefits of sport, language, cultural exchange, traditional games and international understanding,” said Smith. “Next year in Whitehorse the 2020 Arctic Winter Games will celebrate 50 years of being the world’s largest multi-sport and cultural event for young people of the Arctic. … We look forward to welcoming all the athletes from all circumpolar countries and cheering the athletes on as they compete in the games.”
The 2020 Arctic Winter Games are set to happen March 15 to 21, 2020 and will include athletes from circumpolar countries and regions around the world competing in 21 sports disciplines.
Whitehorse has hosted the Arctic Winter Games six previous times, most recently in 2012.
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