There hasn’t been much in the way of sports in Nunavut because of COVID-19.

No hockey in Rankin Inlet, no Arctic Winter Games, no North American Indigenous Games now this coming July. That’s a double-whammy to youth, as Jeff Seeteenak of the territory’s Sport and Recreation Division put it in the March 30 edition of Nunavut News.

Thankfully, we have yet to suffer from a case of COVID-19 and let’s keep it that way. We’ve done a great job of making sure it doesn’t permeate our territory. Well done to you all.

Now comes the job of doing sports in a time where there are none. So what do we do in times like this? We go into the history books.

It’s time to find out just who is the Greatest Athlete of All Time.

NNSL Media is doing something similar in the NWT as it tries to find out the Greatest Team of All Time to ever represent our neighbours to the west and that competition gets underway today, April 6. For Nunavut, it’s better to find out who the best athlete is.

That’s not to say there haven’t been great teams; the Baffin Blizzard of 2015 would be an obvious choice as they became the first team from the territory to win the Maritime-Hockey North Junior C Championship. The Kivalliq Canucks are another one as the 2012 runners-up of the very same tournament. Don’t forget the Team North boys side from the 2016 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships that won silver. Plenty of Nunavummiut on that squad.

When it comes to athletes, there is but one obvious choice: Jordin Tootoo.

Former NHLer Jordin Tootoo of Rankin Inlet and his dad, Barney Tootoo, take in the atmosphere of the morning skate for the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Keystone Centre in Brandon, Man., on Oct. 19, 2018. The younger Tootoo is widely recognized as the most famous Inuk athlete there’s been but how would he stack up in a contest to choose the greatest athlete of all time to hail from Nunavut?
Photo courtesy Wheat Kings family

Tootoo would top any list made up by people from down south because, well, he’s the only Inuk athlete that they know. He will be a part of this competition but there should, and will, be plenty more.

Take people like Drew Bell of Arviat, who’s an Arctic sports legend. Susie Pearce of Iqaluit is another who’s hit big heights in Arctic sports (no pun intended). Jesse Mike of Iqaluit is a pioneer of women’s hockey in the territory and ran the Nunavut Stars hockey camp for many years. Andy Attagutalukutuk of Iglulik, a multiple-time winner of the Nunavut Quest, should always be in any discussion. Jonah Oolayou of Iqaluit, anyone? He’s a star in literally any sport he decides and wants to play.

You have emerging athletes such as Eekeeluak Avalak of Cambridge Bay, who will almost certainly become one of the top wrestlers in the country in the coming years. How about Louis Nutarariaq of Iqaluit? Remember him? He holds a special place in Nunavut sporting lore. See if you can figure out why.

There are many choices out there and this is where you come in. Nunavut News wants you to tell us who you think should be part of our search. For those of you who are wondering if you should stick to just those who came between 1999 to now, the short answer is no. If they come from the Eastern Arctic, you submit their name.

We’ll give you a few days to come up with some good ones and we’ll publish a list in the April 20 edition of Nunavut News. We’ll also tell you how you will choose the winner and if things go as planned, there may be a prize of quantitative value attached to the end of it.

It’s not like we’re doing much of anything else right now so why not sit around and argue about stuff in our living rooms and online? We’re pretty good at that already. Let’s spice it up a bit with some good ol’ fashioned sporty competition.

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  1. I’ve really enjoyed watching Eekeeluak wrestle, star in the making. Hoping he dabbles in MMA I think he would Excell there as well.

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