February 20, 2004
From February 28 to March 6, two thousand athletes, coaches and cultural performers from north of the 55th parallel will be converging on the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo for the 2004 Arctic Winter Games.
This year, the best young athletes from 10 contingents from around the world will compete in 20 sports in addition to showcasing their cultural talent. Three hundred athletes, coaches and performers from 35 northern communities will represent Alberta on Team Alberta North.
Athletes compete in traditional Arctic and Dene sports like the high kick, knuckle hop, pole push and snowsnake; as well as better-known sports such as hockey, skiing, basketball, and indoor soccer.
The inspiration for the Arctic Winter Games came at the Canada Winter Games in 1967, where northern commissioners agreed that the best way for northern athletes to enjoy a more balanced and rewarding competition was to create an event exclusively for them.
As a result, every two years the Arctic Winter Games provides athletes and spectators with seven days of competition and artistic celebration. The 2004 Games mark the second time Alberta has hosted this event, as they were held in Slave Lake in 1994.
The Games celebrate participation in sport, give northern cultural performers and artists a platform to show their unique talents, and promote social inter-change between different cultures. This is symbolized by the three interlocking rings of the Arctic Winter Games logo.
The Government of Alberta has committed $1.4 million to the Arctic Winter Games, continuing its support of events that promote active and healthy lifestyles through sport, opportunities for cultural exchange, and the goodwill of friendly competition.
The Games will officially begin with the opening ceremonies on Saturday, February 28 in Fort McMurray. CBC television will broadcast the ceremonies nationally on February 29 at 5:00 p.m.