The Arctic Winter Games are fast approaching and Kechi (pronounced Kee-Chee), the snowy owl, is helping to spread the spirit of the games. Selected as the official mascot for the games, Kechi is all on board to represent the games slogan, Find Your Power. Her name means power in the Cree language, and she even wears a scarf that says Find Your Power, in addition to a dark blue vest, which pairs nicely with her white and black feathers.
The Arctic Winter Games take place every two years. For 2018 they are being held March 18 to 24. Fort Smith and Hay River Northwest Territories will be co-hosting and this year 1,900 athletes representing various circumpolar regions are expected to compete.
Selecting a mascot for the Arctic Winter Games is no simple task. Submissions were sent in by school children from the South Slave Regions of the Northwest Territories as early as 2016.
Thorsten Gohl is the marketing director for the games, and he is pleased with Kechi being selected as the mascot. “She embodies the spirit of the games as well as creates excitement about them,” he said.
After learning about the support and team spirit Kechi generates at the Arctic Winter Games, it seems that the games just would not be the same without a mascot. Choosing a mascot for the 2018 games took time and thought. The Host Society Board came together with a group of elders to make the final selection. Snowy owls are well known in the northern arctic regions of Canada. The males tend to have all white feathers, where the females have white feathers with flecks of black mixed in.
When it came time to make Kechi’s costume, no details were spared. Over a month of labour went into the creation. There are two costumes, one for Hay River and one for Fort Smith; ensuring that both towns get an equal amount of the excitement that Kechi brings with her.
While the athletes are the individuals who put in the work to be the best at their sport, mascots can get crowds extra pumped. Even though the games have not started yet, Kechi gives the children and youth something to focus on and draw inspiration from. This snowy owl has become the emblem and the visual form of the motto, Find Your Power. In one elementary school students were given a template with a drawing of Kechi. The owl asks, “What does Find Your Power mean to you?” One child wrote, “Find Your Power means to me to never give up, to continue as most difficult times and to keep moving forward. Pick yourself up and do what you love to do. Be strong, be brave and Find Your Power.”
That response stood out for Gohl. “I was really impressed by what this student wrote,” he said.
The first official engagement for Kechi will be at the opening ceremony of the games, which takes place on March 18 at the Hay River Recreation Centre at 6 p.m. To celebrate, 1,900 athletes will march their way into the Rec Centre to kick off the games. And Kechi will be there in full Find-Your-Power mode.
Kechi is also available for other sports and fundraiser events. For more information you can send an email to [email protected].