Once again, Slave Lake hosted the Arctic Winter Games tryouts for Team Alberta North.
Tryouts were November 22 and 23. The 2020 Arctic Winter Games will be in March in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Various leaders live in the area. Tim Horsman of Slave Lake helps coordinate Team Alberta North. The coach for Team Alberta North Dene Games lives in Wabasca.
“It’s a great thing,” says Horsman. “Slave Lake has been very involved. We send mission staff, we’ve hosted the games. Slave Lake is central to Team Alberta North,” which makes it a convenient place for tryouts.
Flexibility is very important to the games, says Horsman. Often gymnasts do well.
There’s no one whose job it is to promote and teach the games, says Horsman. He and others volunteer to introduce kids to the sports in schools. Often children aren’t familiar with the games, There’s been some success with gym teachers adding them to the curriculum and training kids that way.
Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority has a new sports coordinator who’s working on adding it to the curriculum, says Horsman.
Kee Tas Kee Now is made up of six first Nations north of Lesser Slave Lake, including Loon River and Peerless Trout First Nation.
As well as leaders, over the years Slave Lake and area has sent many athletes to the games.
Zaphira (Zoe) Ey, from Assineau, is one of the athletes who tried out again this year.
She was part of Team Alberta North Dene Games at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in Hay River, NT. At the 2016 games, Ey participated on Team Alberta North Snowshoe, in Nuuk, Greenland. She was recognized with the Fair Play Award for excellent sportsmanship.
“As parents, and winter sports enthusiasts, both Herb and I have enjoyed the Arctic Winter Games as ‘Host Region’ volunteers,” says Zoe’s mother, Wendy Ey, in an email. “Not only were we able to cheer on Team Alberta North and our daughter, but we were behind the scenes, meeting great people, travelling to distant lands and truly being part of an International Sporting Event.”
“The Arctic Winter Games have played a huge role, inspiring Zaphira to follow her athletic dreams,” says Wendy. “Leading up to the 2018 AWG, she tried out for Team Alberta North contingents of Nordic Skiing, Snowshoe, Dene Games and Arctic Sports. She was successful making 3 of those 4 teams. After much thought, she proudly accepted her position on the Juvenile Girls Dene Games Team.”
Stay tuned for results.