Shuttling off to the Arctic Games

February 23, 2012

Retired educator Roland Dawe of Bay Roberts disappears into the living room of his home. It's the morning of Feb. 9 and Dawe is speaking with The Compass about his upcoming trip to the Arctic Winter Games, March 2-10 in Whitehorse, Yukon where he will officiate the under-16 and under-19 badminton competition.

He returns minutes later carrying a white plastic bag full of metal pins. His Burmese mountain dog, Bruno, rises from its spot on the kitchen floor to meet him. Dawe pulls out a couple of white bathroom towels. Attached to them are pins he collected at previous Games in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. "I hope the hotel doesn't want these back," he said with a chuckle.

There are pins places like Greenland, Northwest Territories, Alaska, Russia, Northern Alberta. Some of them come in sets, like a walrus or a seal, while some are single pins.

Looking at the souvenirs, you can see a smile creep across his face, the corners of his mouth moving upwards.

For Dawe, each pin is a doorway to a different time and place. "Each pin is a memory," he said. "I can look at them and re-live the games."

Pin trading is a big part of the experience. With each area bringing a unique pin or pin set to the games, it becomes a challenge to collect them all.

When he travels again to the Games in March, Dawe is sure to come back with many more interesting stories and a different set of pins. He is looking forward to chasing down that one last pin he needs to complete his set. "It's one of my favourite parts about going," he said.

When Dawe makes his journey to Whitehorse, he will be doing so as a representative of Nunavut.

Sharing stories and meeting people Dawe has been travelling to the northern territories of Canada for the better part of the decade, since his retirement from teaching in 2001. He said he "got bored" of the home routine and decided to take a teaching position at Qitiqliq High School in Arviat, Nunavut.
Dawe quickly became acclimated with the people he was working with, and maintains those friendships today.

It is those people, and ones he has met through badminton, that he looks forward to reuniting with. "We stay in contact through email," said Dawe. When they get together, they share stories and catch up on what has been going on in their lives. Each time he goes to either the Arctic Games or the Canada Games (1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007), Dawe relishes the chance to meet new people, exchanging stories and experiences.

Interacting with players Dawe spends some of his free time in Bay Roberts working as an official with the Bay Arena Minor Hockey Association.

He said his work with badminton at the Games is vastly different from that of a hockey official. "If a player, for example, is serving wrong, I'll pull them aside after the game and show them what they did wrong and how to fix it," Dawe explained. "What other sport do you see that in?"

Some of the players Dawe sees at the Games are ones he has been coaching since 2003, when he became tournament director for the Nunavut Territorial Championships. "I've watched them grow as players," he said.

The Arctic Winter Games is a sporting competition for northern and Arctic athletes. Besides the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle, the Games emphasize culture and values.

Badminton has given much to Dawe. "I enjoy the travelling, seeing new places and experiencing new things," he said. It has allowed him to visit each of Canada's provinces and territories. There is only one place he hasn't visited that he'd like to hang around for. "I really want to visit Greenland," said Dawe. 

Yukon Government Lotteries Yukon City of Whitehorse Government of Canada
Arctic Winter Games International Committee