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Next Arctic Winter Games to build on 'amazing' Whitehorse plans

Organizers of the 2022 Arctic Winter Games say they want to build on some of the work done ahead of the Whitehorse games, and ensure that not all planning went to waste.

Host society in Wood Buffalo, Alta., says 2022 event will recognize work done for this year's cancelled games

'Some of the plans that we had heard ... were really quite amazing,' Erica Brewer says of the 2022 Arctic Winter Games society in Wood Buffalo, Alta. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

Organizers of the 2022 Arctic Winter Games say they want to build on some of the work done ahead of the 2020 Whitehorse games, and ensure that not all that planning went to waste.

"Some of the plans that we had heard ... were really quite amazing, and we want to continue that and make sure that's a legacy," said Erica Brewer, with the games host society in Wood Buffalo, Alta. 

She was in Whitehorse this week, as planned — but her visit took a slightly different focus when the games were cancelled.

"Normally, the host society for the future games comes up and observes what's going on and how they can put on the games, so we can get lessons and pointers and best practices," she said.

When the Whitehorse games were cancelled because of concern over the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, Brewer said her host society felt "hopeless and helpless" for the local organizers.

"We know how excited we are for our games, and ... they're two years away. Their games were like, a week away," Brewer said.

Organizers of the 2020 games in Whitehorse clean up after the event that never was. (Juanita Taylor/CBC)

She said after the games were cancelled, the Wood Buffalo host society got in touch and offered to come to Whitehorse anyway, to offer any help or support that might be needed.

Brewer said the games in Wood Buffalo are still in the early planning stages — but the hope is to build on some of Whitehorse's work and vision. In particular, she points to the focus on Indigenous reconciliation, and also the planned Pride House for athletes.  

"We were really looking forward to seeing that stuff and learning from them so that we could take it back and bring it to the 2022 games," Brewer said.

She said the Wood Buffalo games will make sure to recognize all the work done by organizers in Whitehorse.

"Our sympathies are totally with them, it's devastating what happened to them."

With files from Jane Sponagle

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