Wood Buffalo ready to host Arctic Winter Games.
From the moment the announcement was made on a cold February day in 2019 that Wood Buffalo would host the Arctic Winter Games (AWG), Host Society staff, Board of Directors and committee volunteers have been busy planning to welcome 2,100 participants, coaches and officials from across the circumpolar North from January 29-February 4, 2023.
The AWG brings the circumpolar world together to celebrate the north through athletic competition, cultural exchange and social interaction as represented by the three interlocking rings on the International Committee’s logo. The first Games were held in Yellowknife in 1970 with 500 participants from Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska. In 2023, participants from Northern Alberta, Alaska, Yukon, Nunavut, Nunavik, Northwest Territories, Greenland and Sápmi (part of the Sami people who travel with the herds of reindeer in remote areas of Norway, Sweden and Finland) will proudly represent their region and compete in 20 different sports and cultural performances.
To be eligible to compete in the Arctic Winter Games, teams must be located above the 55th parallel north circle of latitude on the globe. This means contingents are coming from some of the most remote parts of the Arctic.
The 2023 Games will be the first time the Circumpolar north has come together since 2018 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 Whitehorse Games days before they were scheduled to start and postponed the Wood Buffalo Games by a year. This is also the first time Wood Buffalo has hosted the Games since 2004, and we could not be more excited to welcome the circumpolar North back to the region!
What is an Ulu?
You will notice the medals will look different at the Arctic Winter Games. Participants are not competing for regular medals, instead, they win gold, silver and bronze ulus. In Inuktitut, ulu (ᐅᓗ) means “woman’s knife” reflecting the historic use of the tool by female Inuit.
Another unique feature of the AWG is the Hodgson Trophy – named after Stuart Hodgson, former Commissioner of the Northwest Territories (NWT). The Hodgson Trophy program is administered by the Arctic Winter Games International Committee (AWGIC). The Hodgson Trophy is presented at the Closing Ceremonies to the Contingent that demonstrates the best understanding of the philosophy of the Arctic Winter Games and most exemplifies the spirit of fair play during the Games week.
The Hodgson Trophy is on display on the second floor at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon. A framed photograph of the trophy is presented to the winning contingent along with a special Hodgson Trophy pin.
Past winners of the Hodgson Trophy
Yukon | 1978 - 1988
Alaska | 1990
NWT | 1992
Greenland | 1994
NWT | 1996
Yukon | 1998
Nunavut | 2000
Greenland | 2002
Nunavut | 2004
Alaska | 2006
Nunavut | 2008
Alaska | 2010
Nunavut | 2012
Greenland | 2014
Alaska | 2016
Alaska | 2018
Teaming Up With Local Olympian
The Wood Buffalo Arctic Winter Games Host Society welcomed professional snowboarder Brooke Voigt as an official ambassador leading up to the Games in August 2020. Originally from Fort McMurray, Voigt is a former Arctic Winter Games (AWG) athlete who competed in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and the 2021 Beijing Games.
“The Arctic Winter Games were a significant steppingstone for me at the beginning of my career and I hope that’s the case for many athletes to come. It means a lot to me to be partnering with an event that helped me develop my passion for competition,” says Voigt.
The partnership highlights Voigt’s achievements and supports the promotion of the Wood Buffalo Arctic Winter Games’ mission, vision and values to the community and an international audience.
Brooke Voigt, Professional Snowboarder, Fort McMurray