Mr. Speaker, today I wish to give well deserved recognition to Team Northwest Territories who were scheduled to compete at the 2020 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon from March 15 -21.
At the same time as providing this recognition, we, of course, have to acknowledge the profound disappointment at the difficult but necessary decision to cancel the 2020 Arctic Winter Games due to the risk presented by the COVID-19 virus. The decision to cancel the games could not have been an easy one, but ultimately, doing what was in the best interests of the health and safety of all those involved had to be the priority.
Mr. Speaker, it is truly unfortunate that there will be no games. Team NT still deserves our thanks and our recognition. Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide Members with some information about Team NT:
At the Territorial Trials, 746 athletes, coaches and chaperones from 23 NWT communities competed for the opportunity to represent the NWT. Of this 344 were female participants and 402 were male participants.
The 2020 Arctic Winter Games Team consists of 355 participants including athletes, coaches and mission staff from 20 different communities. In addition, 17 officials from across the NWT were scheduled to be involved. Team NT athletes were set to compete in all 20 sports. Team NT also included a cultural contingent that was going to celebrate our cultural heritage.
17 NWT Youth Ambassadors, with representation from all regions in the Territory, were also set to go to Whitehorse as volunteers. The NWT Youth Ambassador Program (NWT YAP) has been in operation in the Northwest Territories for 12 years, and offers a guided and structured volunteer experience for NWT youth at major territorial, national and international events. Participants have the opportunity to develop life and job skills as well as to build the confidence necessary to deal with complex life challenges.
Mr. Speaker, everyone who is part of Team NT and the contingent who was going to the Arctic Winter games had worked hard for many months and in some cases years to prepare for these games. Team NT is built with the collaboration of so many people who deserve our thanks: Volunteers, sport organizations, and the tireless efforts of parents. I want to say thank you to everyone for all their efforts in the early morning drives, the long hours of practice, and the lessons in fair play and determination. We know the life lessons that involvement in sports teaches are very valuable. What we hope our young people take away from this difficult lesson is that the reward and pride in accomplishment is in the journey.
Mr. Speaker, I want to advise Members that Team NT will be refunded for their deposits and to keep their uniforms. Unfortunately, due to the scope and magnitude that goes into planning events of this type, postponing the games or holding alternative events is not an option.
To close, I would like to extend my thanks to Mr. Doug Rentmeister, Chef de Mission, Mr. Damon Crossman and Mr. Bill Othmer, Assistant Chef de Missions for Team NT and all the rest of their mission staff as well as the Sport North Federation.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.