The Government of Canada Supports the 2020 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse

News release

WHITEHORSE, May 22, 2019

The Government of Canada believes it is important to support young Indigenous athletes and provide opportunities for all Canadians to learn about Indigenous sport. That is why we are proud to support the Arctic Winter Games, which encourage participation in sport and promote cultural expression among and between First Nations, Métis, Inuit and non-Indigenous communities across the circumpolar Northern region.

Today, Larry Bagnell, Member of Parliament (Yukon), on behalf of the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, announced a contribution of up to $1.5 million over two years (2018–2019 and 2019–2020) for the Whitehorse 2020 Arctic Winter Games through Sport Canada’s Hosting Program. This amount represents a significant increase over Hosting Program funding provided to the games in past years.

These games provide quality opportunities for competition and cultural exposure to Indigenous and Northern peoples. The games have a significant economic impact and legacies for the hosting region and contribute to increased ties between circumpolar communities of participating jurisdictions and countries.

Established in 1970, the Arctic Winter Games are a multisport event for young Northern circumpolar athletes, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, that showcase unity, sport, culture, youth, volunteerism and teamwork between First Nations, Métis, Inuit and non-Indigenous communities. The games encourage participation in sport and athlete development, training for coaches and officials, community development, confidence, pride, and they promote Northern and Indigenous culture and values.


“Our government is proud to support the Whitehorse 2020 Arctic Winter Games, which provide Indigenous peoples and Northerners opportunities to compete. These games also provide cultural experiences while helping develop Northern and Indigenous sport and leadership and inspire our young people to stay active. They will also bring economic, social and cultural benefits for the entire Whitehorse region.

—The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport —The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport

“It is a great pleasure for me to speak on behalf of the Honorable Kirsty Duncan and to announce funding that is filled with hope and pride for our young Canadians athletes who will be taking part in the Whitehorse 2020 Arctic Winter Games. Our government is proud to support these games as they enable youth to showcase their athletic abilities while celebrating their heritage.”

—Larry Bagnell, Member of Parliament (Yukon)

“The Arctic Winter Games are about more than just sport and competition. They are about investing in Northern youth and inspiring members of our communities through culture, inclusion and togetherness. Organizing a multi-sport Games North of 60 involves a lot of hard work, as well as important partnerships, and Whitehorse 2020 wouldn’t be possible without this contribution from the Government of Canada.”

—Moira Lassen, General Manager of the Whitehorse 2020 Arctic Winter Games

Quick facts

  • The 2020 Arctic Winter Games will be held in Whitehorse, Yukon from March 15 to 21, 2020, and will be hosted by the Whitehorse 2020 Arctic Winter Games Host Society.

  • The 2020 Arctic Winter Games will be the 25th edition of the games and, since they are held every two years, will mark the 50th anniversary of the AWG.

  • The Arctic Winter Games is the largest and most important multisport cultural event in the circumpolar North, with approximately 1,800 athletes coming from across the region, including five Canadian jurisdictions (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Northern Alberta, Nunavut, and, Nunavik, Quebec); Alaska (USA); Yamal (Russia); Greenland; and, the Sami region (Finland, Sweden and Norway).

  • The athletic competition features modern sports alongside traditional Arctic (Inuit or Northern) sports and Dene games. The cultural component features galas, visual arts, dance and ceremonies from artists across the circumpolar regions.

  • Since 1970, Sport Canada has provided a financial contribution to the host society of the games when hosted in Canada; in 1974, it began contributing to the transportation of the territorial teams when the games were taking place outside of Canada. Since 2002, each jurisdiction has received a contribution of up to $100,000 for team travel to the games.

  • For the first time in the history of the Arctic Winter Games, and in recognition of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the 2020 Arctic Winter Games Host Society has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with local First Nations. The MoU provides for the celebration of local First Nations, and their involvement in the planning and delivery of the Whitehorse 2020 Arctic Winter Games. It is hoped that this will be a legacy that is repeated by future hosts of the games.

Associated links


Daniele Medlej
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science and Sport

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage

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