Over 100 recreation leaders have arrived in Hay River for the annual get-together of the NWT Recreation and Parks Association.
It is the first time since 2011 that the meeting – featuring a conference, annual general meeting and awards banquet – has been held in Hay River.
The event will bring together recreation professionals, youth centre workers, health care workers, educators, elders and volunteers.
The gathering began on Oct. 8 and will run to Oct. 10.
“I think people appreciate visiting other communities and seeing what’s happening in a place,” said Geoff Ray, the executive director of the NWT Recreation and Parks Association.
Participants will be coming from across the NWT, he said. “I think just about every community has somebody attending the conference. It’s also a great opportunity to meet each other and connect with each other and learn from each other.”
The conference will run over the three days, while the annual general meeting and awards banquet will take place on Oct. 9.
Most of the events will take place at the Rec Centre, while the awards banquet is planned for Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre.
Many of the participants will be interested in seeing Hay River’s new Rec Centre, said Ray. “I think that’s part of the appeal of coming to Hay River is the new Rec Centre, but I also think there’s a lot going on in the community, and we’re going to be able to do some tours as part of the conference.”
Those tours will be to such places as NWT Centennial Library and the Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI).
Ray noted that the association has heard of NFTI programming offered in other communities.
“A few years ago, we had a presentation about the community gardens in Gameti and the support that they’ve been getting from NFTI,” he said. “I think community gardening is a recreation program.”
Glenn Smith, the assistant senior administrative officer with the Town of Hay River, said the NWT Recreation and Parks Association gathering is a big event.
“It’s a territorial event, and we’re very proud and happy to be accommodating them in our brand-new recreation facility,” he said.
“It’s a great way to leverage the community’s investment in that facility and showcase that it can be used for meetings and conferences of a territorial magnitude,” Smith added. “We recognize that it will have a lot of positive return for businesses within the town who are catering or who will be providing accommodations and providing services to that group while they’re in town.”
Smith noted the town is already working on proposals to host other territorial conferences in the coming years.
“We hope to have more conferences, and business meetings and entertainment,” he said.
This year’s gathering of the NWT Recreation and Parks Association will feature keynote speakers Scott McQueen and Jordee Reid of Yellowknife on Oct. 8. They will talk about the history of sled dogs in Canada’s North.
On Oct. 9, Ashley Carvill and Susannah Beckett of the Yukon will make a presentation on ‘Our Families, Our Way: The Peacemaking Circle’, a Carcross/Tagish First Nation project that has revitalized the practice of peacemaking circles.
The awards banquet will celebrate six individuals from across the NWT for their efforts and achievements in promoting recreation and active living.
Conference participants can join association board members and staff at the AGM to learn more about what the organization achieved over the past year.
The AGM will also help shape recreation in the NWT by electing new board members and voting on association business.
The conference theme is Back to the Future, which invites delegates and presenters to reflect on recreation, past and present, but also to consider how recreation could be part of strengthening families and communities in the future.
Back to the Future builds on the work of the association’s last two conferences, which focused on decolonization and reconciliation, and intergenerational connections.