Hay River, Fort Smith to jointly host 2018 Arctic Winter Games

Exactly 40 years since Hay River hosted the 1978 Arctic Winter Games, organizers confirmed the international competition will return to the South Slave, which beat out a competing bid from Inuvik.

'We did it!!!' tweets Hay River Mayor Andrew Cassidy

Hay River kids rally in support of the community's bid to host the Arctic Winter Games during the international committee's visit to Hay River in January. (CBC)

Hay River and Fort Smith will both play host to the 2018 Arctic Winter Games, beating out rival N.W.T. community Inuvik for the honour.

Hay River Mayor Andrew Cassidy expressed his excitement at the news on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, tweeting "We did it!"

Cassidy's confirmation came shortly after Inuvik Mayor Floyd Roland was notified by the Arctic Winter Games International Committee that Inuvik had lost the bid.

"We were not successful," Roland told the CBC. 

John Rodda, the vice president of the committee, says an official press announcement will be made today.

"With the announcement, we will begin to prepare the contract documents, and an official signing ceremony will be scheduled. Hopefully by late April," he says. 

'Next comes the hard stuff'

A group was gathered in Fort Smith's Recreation and Community Centre in anticipation of the news. After receiving a phone call from the International Committee, Mayor Brad Brake informed the group.

"I walked in with a straight face, and stood up there, and said: 'well, we won,'" he says.

"Next comes the hard stuff. We really have to kick things into high gear."

Janie Hobart, who co-chaired the South Slave bid, agrees.

"Three years from now, that sounds like a long time," she says, "but I'm sure that will go in an instant."

AWG in N.W.T. communities for first time in 40 years

The Town of Inuvik had estimated the games could cost about $7.5 million, without building any new infrastructure. In their bid, the South Slave committee estimated the cost of the Games at $7.327 million.   

Hay River and Fort Smith previously submitted a joint bid for the 2008 Arctic Winter Games, which ultimately went to Yellowknife.

The Games are hosted in rotation among the six permanent members of the Arctic Winter Games — the N.W.T., Yukon, Nunavut, Alberta, Alaska, and Greenland — and 2018 is the Northwest Territories' turn to host.

Yellowknife has hosted every N.W.T. edition of the Games since 1978,  when they were held in Hay River and the now-defunct mine town of Pine Point. That edition is most well-known for a train that ran between the two communities, shuttling participants and spectators back and forth.

It was announced in 2013 that Yellowknife would not bid in order to consider hosting the 2023 Canada Winter Games, opening the door for other communities to have a turn at hosting.

The last time the Games were shared between two cities was in 2002, when they were held in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and Nuuk, Greenland. 


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Fort Smith mayor Brad Brake's name.
    Mar 19, 2015 1:33 PM CT


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