Categories: Games News

Youth Ambassadors cheer on Team Nunavut at the Canada Summer Games

The group represents the territory, supports events in amateur sports competition in Niagara

A sports team is not only made up of athletes.

Athletes keep the action moving, but coaches provide advice and leadership, doctors help keep the team in shape, and support staff help keep the team running smoothly.

And for Team Nunavut at the Canada Summer Games, an important component is the Nunavut Youth Ambassadors.

Ambassadors are a team of two leaders and 10 youth who volunteer at events and represent their territory at the games.

They help athletes find their facilities, check in tickets, move obstacles on the running track, organize cultural events and of course cheer on the athletes as they represent Nunavut.

They are also considered official members of Team Nunavut – each ambassador receives a team uniform.

“We’re taking them to the Canada Summer Games as a great way to wrap it up and also get them to experience the sport on a whole new level,” said Corey Skinner, who leads the Ambassador program for the Nunavut Youth.

The idea is for young people to learn new leadership and volunteering skills that they can take back to their home communities, Skinner said.

In the year leading up to the games, program participants, all aged 16-21, complete a series of modules on northern recreation and plan a special community engagement project in their hometowns.

Gabriel Nimiqtaqtuq, 18, discovered the program through his school. He organized a community engagement project in his hometown of Gjoa Haven where he brought young and old people together to socialize and avoid feelings of isolation during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Besides a trip as a youngster for medical travel, coming to the Canada Summer Games in Ontario’s Niagara region is one of the first times Nimiqtaqtuq has left Nunavut, he said.

The ambassadors hosted a popular booth at the festival earlier this week where they hosted informational sessions about Nunavut and hosted trivia games and Inuit Games demonstrations.

They also had samples of the country’s traditional food, such as dried caribou, for people to taste, and helped visitors to their booth translate their names into Inuktitut syllabics.

“A lot of the kids are shy, but it was really nice,” Skinner said.

“They just engaged with the public and everything and it was by far the busiest booth.”

Nimiqtaqtuq said the most fun part of the hosting experience has been seeing “the look on people’s faces” when they learn what life is like in Nunavut.

He also enjoys collecting and trading the team’s pin sets (Nunavut’s unique pin is considered a hot item at the games) and is looking forward to watching the closing ceremonies on Sunday.

Rachel Tagoona-Tapatai, 20, is an accomplished athlete, having grown up playing hockey, volleyball, basketball and table tennis in her home community of Baker Lake.

His favorite part of being at the Canada Summer Games is exploring the city, seeing sports not easily found in Nunavut, and reuniting with his friends who compete on the men’s volleyball team.

Back home, Tagoona-Tapatai organized a clothing drive at the youth center, collecting donations of clothing and household items for people to pick up.

“Volunteering here has shown me that being selfless can be a good thing,” she said.

Skinner said the culmination of all the young ambassadors’ hard work before and during the games is great to see.

“A lot of these kids are from completely different communities … but they’re developing friendships that will probably last a lifetime now,” Skinner said.

“They’ve become a great group.”

Just like a sports team.


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