And so we are 10 days away from the start of the big show in Whitehorse.
That big show, of course, is the 2020 Arctic Winter Games and it all gets underway on March 15. Team Nunavut will be out in full force with a total of 270 athletes, coaches and mission staff from 22 communities along with the Inuksuk Drum Dancers from Iqaluit, who will be the cultural performers, and 10 members of the Nunavut Youth Ambassadors Program.
Mariele Depeuter is the chef de mission this time around, a role she’s filled several times before for Team Nunavut, and she said everything is going as good as it can right now.
“We’re definitely feeling the crunch but everything is on the right track,” she said. “Our travel plans are still good to go and we’re just continuing to get ready.”
The team will be going over on three charters with pick-ups in the major centres – Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet – along with one stop in Yellowknife to pick up some athletes who are travelling from the Kitikmeot region.
Depeuter said there is an extra charter for dogs who are taking part in dog mushing.
This year’s team is a bit bigger than the 2018 squad in that there are juvenile boys and girls futsal teams, teams that were missing from two years ago, along with four athletes in dog mushing. What’s different is that there aren’t any gymnasts and that’s because no one was able to coach the team.
“What we added and what we lost all balances out,” said Depeuter.
The official uniform and pin set were both unveiled at the legislative assembly in Iqaluit on March 5 and it features patches celebrating both the 50th anniversary of the Arctic Winter Games itself and the 20th anniversary of Team Nunavut; Nunavut’s first foray into multi-sport games after becoming a territory was the 2000 Arctic Winter Games.
The uniform also includes custom-made hand-crocheted hats made in both Arviat by Kiluk Ltd. and the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts in Pangnirtung.
Team Nunavut won a total of 55 ulus – 15 gold, 17 silver and 23 bronze – in 2018 sand while there’s no telling if that number will go up, Depeuter said she expects nothing but a good effort
“We’re all hoping the athletes will give it their all every time they go out,” she said. “One of the big things we’re going to be looking at this year is athlete development and how far they’ve come. The coaches have been working with the athletes for a while now and development has been the focus so we’ll see what happens at crunch time.”
But no matter what happens, Depeuter said the most important thing is that so many people have helped to get Nunavut to where it is 20 years after it all began.
“To the people who opened the gym doors to let the athletes practice to the mission staff and the volunteers, we can’t thank them enough,” she said.