The most unique and sought-after souvenirs of the South Slave Arctic Winter Games (AWG) might be – perhaps surprisingly – licence plates.
But they are not just any old licence plates.
They are the iconic NWT plates in the shape of a polar bear, but containing the letters AWG and numbers ranging from one to 75.
The licences caught the attention of many people at the games.
Most of those plates – 56 to be exact – are on vehicles provided to the host society by Aurora Ford in Hay River.
Donna Lee Jungkind, general manager with Aurora Ford, said the host society provided transportation to mission staff and members of contingents, and the company provided use of new vehicles as a donation in support of the games.
The vehicles – Escapes, Explorers, F-150s and Super Duties – were also part of a motor pool to help people, including delegates and VIPs, get around the communities; move luggage; and get the games mascot Kechi from event to event.
“At the end after it all shook out, there’s 56 vehicles that we supplied between Hay River and Fort Smith,” said Jungkind, adding Aurora Ford also has several more of the special licence plates.
All the vehicles were registered by the AWG Host Society, and the cost was covered by the GNWT as a donation.
Robert Bouchard, the transportation chair with the host society, said the idea for the personalized plates came from the vehicle registration office of the GNWT.
“They made 75 plates in total,” he said.
Aside from the ones on the Aurora Ford vehicles, the rest are with the government, although Bouchard said it is expected they will be given to the host society at the end of the games.
Some of them will go to AWG staff and others might be used for fundraising, he said.
“Lots of people like them,” noted Bouchard. “They look pretty good.”
Jungkind of Aurora Ford noted the dealership has also heard “tons of comments” about the licence plates.
“People love them,” she said. “They think they’re great.”
Some people are asking what’s going to happen to the plates and if can they have one.
“The plan is going forward these vehicles will come back to the dealership,” said Jungkind. “We will be selling them at a discount. They will be an Arctic Winter Games special edition. And with the vehicle you will get the plate.”
She noted the special licence plate cannot be transferred to a new owner to remain on the back of a vehicle.
“But they will get to keep the plate,” she said. “We will do something commemorative, whether it’s in a frame or with a plaque or something like that. We’re working on that right now.”
The new owner of a vehicle can use the special plate on the front, Jungkind noted. “As long as there’s a legal plate on the back.”
Lee Cawson, vice-president of the Aurora Group, said the special plates will help sell the vehicles.
“Because, of course, the challenge for us is we’ll have vehicles back that will have some kilometres on them from usage. So we’ll obviously discount the pricing of the vehicles,” said Cawson, adding the plates will be a “nice little bonus” for buyers.