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Greg Rowe, right, stands with Dana Fergusson at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland. Rowe, the president of the 2018 host society, says that it’s been ‘a little more work than… anticipated’ preparing for the 2018 games, but the society is happy with its progress. (CBC) With the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in the N.W.T.’s South Slave region just eight months away, the president of the host society says that preparations remain on track and on schedule, despite challenges with recruiting volunteers and finding accommodations.

The games are scheduled to be held March 18 to 24, 2018, in the communities of Hay River and Fort Smith, which have a combined population of just over 6,000. Holding the games in multiple towns with such a small population hasn’t been attempted since 1978, when they were held jointly between Hay River and the now-defunct mining town of Pine Point.

The unique nature of the 2018 games has made for "a little more work than… anticipated," according to Greg Rowe, who’s heading up the host society.

"Dealing with two municipalities, and just the different communities," he said. "It does create more work.

"There’s some points in the planning where you’re going: ‘oh, man, this is a big thing.’ But then you see the volunteers, and they say they’re going to do this, they’re going to do that… it really warms your heart, and you get excited." 250 volunteers out of 2,000

That volunteer number will need to swell significantly in the next eight months. The host society has estimated that it will take 2,000 volunteers to pull off a successful games. Currently, the amount of sign-ups stand between 250 and 300, according to Rowe.

"We haven’t been overly aggressive at it," he said. "We’ve run a couple campaigns to get people signed up, and we’ll continue to do that."

Rowe said the host society has been in contact with the Arctic Winter Games International Committee and been assured that their volunteer numbers aren’t yet cause for concern. However, his office is planning to ramp up recruitment, starting with a wave of initiatives when the International Committee makes their six-month-out visit in September.

"We’re fairly optimistic that we’ll get the numbers," he said, pointing to commitments from the N.W.T.’s Youth Ambassadors program, indications from the Nunavut and Greenland delegations that they may send volunteers, and a potential partnership with Joint Task Force North and the Canadian Rangers. Volunteers take a break to eat at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland. About 11 per cent of Nuuk’s population volunteered for the 2016 games. Without outside help, that number will be over 30 per cent for Hay River and Fort Smith. (Bo. O Kristensen/AWG 2016) However, reaching a number that equals nearly a third of the towns’ population will be a challenge regardless. Rowe said the committee is encouraging local volunteers to invite friends and family members who have been involved with the games in the past to volunteer, putting them up in their homes — Rowe himself has a number of family members who will be travelling to Hay River to help out.

"It would do two things," he said. "It would get us more volunteers, but it would also get them a place to stay." ‘That is going to be our biggest deficiency’

A competitor flies during the two foot high kick competition, an Arctic Sport contested at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games. (AWG 2016) Finding ways to house volunteers will be key for Rowe and the organizing committee, if only to keep as much space as possible open for visitors. Rowe admitted that while organizers have […]

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