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Youth ambassadors prepare for Greenland
Deh Cho youth ready to shine at Arctic Winter Games

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Monday, February 8, 2016

A total of 15 youth from across the Northwest Territories are preparing to spend two weeks in Nuuk, Greenland as part of the Northwest Territories Youth Ambassador Program, including two youth from the Deh Cho.

Brandon Thom in Fort Providence and Melissa Pascua-Matte from Fort Simpson will join their peers at the Arctic Winter Games in March. As youth ambassadors, they will work as part of a team responsible for facilitating the Games.

Thom, who goes to Deh Gah School in Fort Providence, said he is looking forward to going to Greenland early to help set up for the games.

"I've been all around the North but as far as outside Canada goes I've only been to the U.S.," he said.

"The new scenery, new place and all the people - it's going to be awesome."

Dawn Moses, the youth and volunteer program officer for Sport, Recreation and Youth with the GNWT, said the group will be flying out of Yellowknife on Feb. 29 and will be volunteering on the ground at the Arctic Winter Games from March 4 to 13. The Games themselves run March 6 to 11.

"There are all kinds of different things they can do there, and they get to choose to a certain extent - they send me a list of choices (for duties) and those are all entered into their registration," Moses said.

Some of the choices include volunteering in food service, media, sports and logistics.

"When they're there, they're representing themselves, their communities and the NWT, but they (act as) regular volunteers with the Games' host society," Moses said.

"They'll put in anywhere between 40 and more hours of volunteer work during the Games; they have a daily shift they sign up for and then the rest of the time, they learn how to navigate in cities, they get to experience that Games atmosphere so they can go see different events if they would like to."

Aside from giving youth a chance to travel, Moses said the NWT Youth Ambassador Program gives participants the chance to meet new people and build life skills that can aid them in a career later on.

In the past, youth ambassadors have participated in the North American Indigenous Games, the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games, and many more, Moses said.

To prepare for the Arctic Winter Games, youth went to Yellowknife in November to take part in training, helped along by Arctic Winter Games project consultant Inger Eriksen, who flew in from Greenland to speak to the youth.

Reached by phone, Eriksen said that training session gave youth ambassadors a chance to learn about Greenland and what to expect at the Arctic Winter Games.

"In the beginning, they didn't have too many questions because they didn't know anything about Greenland and they didn't know what to expect," Eriksen said.

"Then I told them about our country and what we're going to do here in Nuuk, and showed them some pictures - they were going, 'Wow, wow!' "

Asked for her impression of the NWT youth ambassadors, Eriksen simply said, "I think they are awesome."

"I can see the work (program leaders) have done with these kids ... I think they put a lot of time in," she said.

"They are all pretty much professionals."

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