The history of the Arctic Winter Games

In 1967, Cal Miller witnessed the disappointment of northern athletes in the Canada Winter Games. Determined to provide a platform for athletes from the circumpolar North, Miller proposed creating their own games. With the support of Commissioner James Smith, Commissioner Stuart Hodgson, Governor Walter Hickel, and others, the Arctic Winter Games were born in 1969.

The Arctic Winter Games Corporation was formed to ensure the Games' continuity and separate politics from operations. The inaugural Games took place in Yellowknife, NWT in 1970, featuring teams from Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska. Over the years, Greenland and northern Quebec also participated, hosting the Games on occasions.

Recognizing the need for more competition and engagement, the AWG Corporation expanded in 1986 to include Northern Alberta. Subsequently, Alberta became a full partner and worked towards increasing team size. Fairbanks, Alaska hosted the 1988 Games, facing challenges due to limited support. However, Alberta's involvement and success led to its permanent partnership.

During the 1988 Games, a meeting of government partners led to decisions that shaped the future of the Games. These decisions included continued financial support, increased focus on cultural events, marketing and media exposure, and the inclusion of Dene games and sports unique to the north. Plans were also made to evaluate the benefits and plan for future editions.

The Games continued to evolve, attracting participants from Russia, Greenland, and Nunavut. Each edition showcased unique sports, cultural exchange, and friendship among circumpolar contingents. Media coverage expanded, generating excitement and promoting the Games worldwide.

Despite the cancellation of the 2020 Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the legacy and spirit of the Arctic Winter Games remain strong. The Games provide a platform for athletes, cultural participants, and host communities to come together, fostering fellowship and celebrating northern sports and culture. The AWGIC continuously works to safeguard the Games' impact and ensure their viability for years to come.