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A look back at 20 years of Team Nunavut

Nunavut as a territory celebrated its 20th birthday on July 9.

A wonderful anniversary, to be sure, but there's another part of the territory that's also celebrating two decades of existence.

Ronald Anawak Jr., of Rankin Inlet is lifted on the shoulders of Donovan Ayuruak of Rankin Inlet, left, and Sean Nipisar of Whale Cove after winning the junior men's two-foot high kick at the 2008 Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife. NNSL file photo

Team Nunavut is also 20 years of age and the Sport and Recreation Division (SRD), formerly Sport Nunavut, is looking for people to help celebrate the milestone. The SRD will be putting together as many items and stories as it can get for a special anniversary campaign which is ongoing.

Mariele Depeuter, the SRD's acting manager, said the GN is celebrating 20 years and wanted to include the division as part of it all.

“Team Nunavut is one of the most visible parts of the territory on the national stage, for sure,” she said. “We're trying to get people to share some of their thoughts and memories through social media and help us celebrate how far we've come in 20 years.”

Randy Kataluk of Coral Harbour does battle on the wrestling mat at the 2003 Western Canada Summer Games. NNSL file photo

The first big event for Team Nunavut upon its creation was the 2000 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse and it's probably fitting in a way that the 20th anniversary of Team Nunavut's participation in the Games will happen where it all began.

“We're planning on incorporating parts of our uniform from 2000 into our uniform for 2020,” said Depeuter.

She wouldn't divulge any details nor give any hints as to what people will see.

Team Nunavut's badminton entry at the 2007 Western Canada Summer Games got a chance to pose with the Games torch before action began that year. They were, front row from left, coach Karen McLarty, Trevor James Kringayark, David Paliak and Douglas Nanordluk; middle row from left, Stephen Keoughan (manager), Paula Piryuaq, Renee Pudnak, Joni Pooyatak, Gary Tinashlu, Angela Okalik and Jason Fesyk; back row from left, chef de mission Kyle Seeley, Stephan Angotialuk, Kelli McLarty and Michael Putulik. photo courtesy of Karen McLarty

In terms of a party or celebration, Depeuter said nothing big is being planned but rather a focus on highlighting some of the big moments provided by the athletes over the past two decades.

“We want to hear from people who have contributed to our past, where they've ended up in their lives, what path they've taken since participating with Team Nunavut,” she said. “We're encouraging people to get in touch with us and reach out and maybe even reconnect with some old friends they may have either lost contact with or haven't spoken to in a while.”

Team Nunavut's juvenile girls indoor soccer team won bronze at the 2006 Arctic Winter Games. They were, front row from left, Selma Angootealuk, Kaylie Kaludjak and Olivia Netser; back row from left, Colleen Neily, Ashley Eetuk (co-captain), Shawnie Nakoolak, Mavis Nakoolak (captain), Britney Pudlat and coach Marilyn Bruce. NNSL file photo

FACT FILE – Team Nunavut highlights

1999 – Creation of Team Nunavut

2000 – First appearance at Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, 35 ulus won

2001 – First appearance at Canada Summer Games (London, Ont.)

2002 – First appearance at North American Indigenous Games (Winnipeg)

2002 – First medal won at North American Indigenous Games (Joseph Nakoolak of Coral Harbour, gold, wrestling)

2003 – First appearance at Canada Winter Games (Bathurst-Campbellton, N.B.) and Western Canada Summer Games (Manitoba)

2003 – First medal won at Western Canada Summer Games (Johnny Eetuk of Cape Dorset, silver, wrestling)

2007 – First medal won at Canada Winter Games (Eugene Dederick of Iqaluit, bronze, judo)

Seth Ningeongan of Nunavut gets himself caught in the net as the puck floats dangerously in front of the net during midget boys hockey playoff action at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games. NNSL file photo

About the Author: James McCarthy

I'm the managing editor with NNSL Media and have been so since 2022.
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