Do You Speak AWG?

The Beatles forever changed our musical landscape with the simple phrase, “You say goodbye, I say hello”.

This week, hundreds of visitors from across the Circumpolar North will descend upon Whitehorse for the Arctic Winter Games.

Although the official language of the games is English, for many participants this is not their first language – in fact, some members of the visiting delegations will not speak English at all.

Teams will be here from Alaska, Northern Alberta, Greenland, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Nunavik (Northern Quebec), Yamalo-Nenets (a district in Northern Russia), Sápmi (the Indigenous territory of the Sami people, stretching across Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia), and Yukon.

They may speak Cree, Danish, Dene, English, French, Greenlandic, Inuktitut, Russian, Sami – or one of several other languages and dialects from around Alaska and Canada’s three northern territories.

In order to help Whitehorse residents make our Arctic neighbours feel welcome, we’ve pulled together a few key phrases.

This way whether you come face-to-face with someone from Yamalo-Nenets, or Greenland, orNunavik you’ll know how to reach out and make them feel at home.

If you meet someone from one of the visiting delegations, take a shot at welcoming them to our territory in their own language.

Not to worry – they will forgive you for mispronunciation. In fact they’ll probably help you figure out how to say the word (and maybe a few others) properly.

You might even make some new friends out of the deal.

While nothing says “welcome” like a warm Yukon smile, here’s a quick chart to help you put it in words.

Amber Church is a painter, writer and sports enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected].

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