Northern artists have stood up and defined the value of their work and the South Slave 2018 Arctic Winter Games host society has learned a hard lesson to go along with it.
That these two great communities have a well-established sporting tradition and deserve to host them there is no doubt. But the latest misstep by the host society does little to quell niggling concerns that it is in over its head.
But succeed these games must, not just for the pride of the South Slave and the rest of the NWT, but for host runner-up Inuvik as well. A fiasco in the South Slave will only harden opinions among international selection committee members that Yellowknife is the only place that can host the games when the NWT’s turn rolls around.
This is not good for the territory, particularly the smaller communities that need the enthusiasm of a successful bid to build and revamp sporting facilities.
Unfortunately, while the host society may not have meant to offend artists with its original call for volunteer performers, it did show the people of the territory there is a lack of preparation hovering around the games. One does wonder how this bodes for the games themselves.
It’s already put a sour taste in the mouths of artists around the territory and could still have repercussions as that error in judgment delayed the society getting applications in from already disgruntled performers and artists.
That isn’t the only potential trouble spot looming for the games as the town of Hay River pushes itself to the limit trying to complete the $21 million rec centre project ahead of the games. The already behind schedule project has been halted by an outstanding order from the NWT fire marshal, pushing the opening date to within weeks of the opening of the games on March 18.
Infrastructure isn’t the only area where some pains are being felt. The society also seems to be struggling to hit its target for volunteers. Through hard work and perseverance, the society has hit 1,000 of the required 1,500 volunteers it needs to smoothly run the games. The society will need to ramp up efforts to wrangle the other 500 volunteers it needs over the next six weeks, so they can still get the required training in prior to the influx of thousands from around the circumpolar North.
There is still time to make the South Slave games a resounding success, but as the old saying goes, “all hands on deck.” The time to raise the alarm is now.