Fostering community spirit
2002 AWG planning begins

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Jun 14/99) - If last month's meeting was any indication of the amount of community support the 2002 Arctic Winter Games are going to get in Iqaluit, then general manager Gilbert Normandeau and his 12-person board of directors shouldn't have any problem recruiting bodies.

"We're going to be hunting for numerous volunteers -- the goal might be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 800 people. Somebody might put in a week or a couple of years," said Dave St. Louis.

St. Louis is the director of recreation for the municipality and also one of eight newly-elected members of the Host Society. To be incorporated later this summer, the Host Society is the body that oversees the AWG and ensures that all aspects of the sporting and cultural events go smoothly.

While many of the volunteers won't have to donate their time for at least a year or two, a group of about 30 dedicated townsfolk showed up to elect the board. St. Louis said the turnout, and the general goodwill the AWG raises in communities around the North, bodes well for Iqaluit.

"One of the major benefits this may offer is to maybe bring the community a little bit closer together. It's going to build some community spirit and some community involvement. That's a long-term benefit," said St. Louis.

Normandeau, recently hired to co-ordinate the 2002 event -- which will be co-hosted with Nuuk, Greenland -- said the town would also reap a great deal of economic benefits from the games.

"The Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife left $4 million in the community. Our games will be a bit smaller, but we expect a heavy economic impact here," said Normandeau.

To begin fund-raising for the costly biannual games and to help jumpstart interest, Normandeau said he planned to pair up with the municipality to participate in Iqaluit's spring clean-up. Set for June 14-17, from 6-9 p.m., local sports organizations and businesses are being encouraged to collect pledges to raise dollars and to help pick up garbage around the community. Generously sponsored by First Air, T-shirts will be given away, a barbecue has been planned and prizes will be awarded to teams who pick up the most garbage and raise the most money.

Normandeau said the cash that was brought in would be significant to the games.

"Anything that we do raise will be the first monies that are put into the bank account. It's a nice gesture. Whatever we get will be the launch money."

People who want more information about the clean-up or the games and want to get involved in the community clean-up can contact Normandeau or watch for advertisements in the local newspapers.