Nunavik, Nunavut get off to a golden start at AWG
First day of competition brings ulus in Arctic, Dene sports
The first day of competition at the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska was a golden one for both Nunavik and Nunavut, with each securing a gold ulu, the games’ top award, in Arctic sports.
Kuujjuaq’s Dylan Gordon, 16, won gold for Nunavik in the junior male kneel jump with a distance of 135.3 cm, while Arviat’s Drew Bell, 29, picked up a golden ulu in the men’s open kneel jump, setting a high of 146.1 cm.
Nunavik also picked up a silver and three bronze ulus in Arctic and Dene sports, while Nunavut earned two other bronze ulus March 17.
“It was a very good day for Nunavik,” said Kativik Regional Government chair Maggie Emudluk, who is in Fairbanks with members of Team Nunavik-Quebec this week.
This is Emudluk’s fourth time at the games, where she watched Dylan Gordon’s golden kneel jump from the stands.
“This is always very special for the athletes to make it all the way here,” she said. “This was one of our athletes’ first time flying on a jet, and using aN escalator, on top of participating in the games. It must be a very special feeling.”
This year the games are hosting some 2,000 youth athletes from the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavik, Northern Alberta, Greenland, Alaska, the Sapmi region of northern Scandinavia and Team Yamal from northwestern Siberia.
This is Nunavik’s largest contingent ever, with 62 athletes ranging from 11 to 32 years of age — the team’s youngest athletes, cross-country skier Angelina Mesher, turned 11 March 18.
Team Nunavik-Quebec is participating in six different disciplines, including cross-country skiing for the first time.
“Of course there are many new faces who worked very hard to get here,” Emudluk said. “Hopefully, we’ll only increase our participation each time and add more events.”
Emudluk called the opportunity to compete at the games “a memory of a lifetime.”
Nunavut’s much larger contingent of 279 athletes will participate in 20 sports throughout the games.
March 18 events include more events that features athletes from both Nunavik and Nunavut; Arctic and Dene sports like the two-foot kick, arm and head pulls, as well as the snow snake.
Visitors to the games may also get a chance to hear some Inuit entertainment; Kangiqsujuaq’s Brazilian drummers represent Nunavik as its cultural contingent, while the Inuksuk Drum Dancers of Iqaluit will perform for Nunavut.
Both groups can be heard playing in different venues around Fairbanks for the remainder of the games, which run until March 22.
Visit the AWG website to see detailed results from each event and medal counts.