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Torch Singers: The Arctic Winter Games Kick Off With A Song Relay
March 5, 2012
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The Arctic Winter Games began last night in Whitehorse, where the coming week will be devoted to celebrating the sports and cultures of northern communities from Russia, Alaska, Scandinavia, Greenland and all of Canada's Arctic regions.

Organizers of the Games, which feature many traditional sports from northern native communities along with activities more familiar to general audiences, decided to emulate their Olympic counterparts this year by including for the first time a relay leading up to the opening of competitions. Unlike the flaming torch that wends its way to Olympic host cities, however, participating communities at the Arctic Winter Games have passed along something far more collaborative: a communal song.

The journey started with a basic theme written by a group of Yukon musicians known as the Root Sellers. From there, the track travelled to the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region of Russia, where members of the local community recorded themselves singing versions of the song and added various sounds and images intended to represent their people.

As the recording travelled west - through the Sapmi regions of Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway, on to Greenland and then across Canada's Arctic - each region added their own sounds and images, culminating in a final combined song and video representing all communities participating in the games.

The final clip had its debut last night in front of 3,000 athletes, coaches, performers, organizers, supporters and fans at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse. Here's what they saw:

You can also hear and download the audio track at the Root Sellers' Soundcloud page.

We wish all the competitors at this week's Games good luck - Go North!

Wednesday night, Inuit leader Mary Simon will be in the red chair, and she'll be talking to George about changes to life in the Arctic and Canada's relationship with the people who live there.

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