Volunteers essential to success of 2020 Arctic Winter Games

With just over 100 days to go until the 2020 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) kick off in Whitehorse on March 15, the drive for volunteers is in full swing.

The 2020 AWG host society will celebrate the 100-day milestone in conjunction with International Volunteer Day on Dec. 5, hosting an event that focuses on the importance of volunteers, as well as the announcement of the volunteer program sponsors. This will be the seventh time the Yukon has hosted the AWG, and 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary since the first ever Games were held in Yellowknife.

Hosting a multi-sport Games of any size requires a large workforce and the 2020 Games are no exception, with an estimated 1,800 volunteers needed for the successful delivery of the event. As of Nov. 25, more than 1,100 volunteers were registered in the system. Yukoners are known for their last-minute nature, but the goal of the volunteers division is to reach the 1,800 mark early in the new year. 

Approximately 250 planning volunteers have been in place since the beginning of the year, serving as division or venue team leads. During Games time, volunteers will fill a variety of roles, assisting in areas including accommodations, food services, box office, spectator services, logistics and marketing. Tasks can range from taking tickets and serving special guests, to fitting-out venues and constructing bunk beds in participant accommodations. There are also sport-specific roles, including results and major technical officials.

One of the largest contributing factors to volunteer recruitment and retention in the Yukon is major employer leave policies, which allow paid time off for employees to volunteer and participate. These policies are currently in place with the Yukon government, as well as the City of Whitehorse, the Yukon Hospital Corporation, Yukon College, private sector businesses such as Northwestel, and First Nations governments such as the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.

Of course, the 2020 AWG Host Society has also been employing other tactics, such as community engagement visits outside of Whitehorse, and appearances at volunteer fairs and other community events. Members of the host society’s volunteer division also make presentations to employees at smaller businesses in the community, as well as to students at Yukon College and local high schools. 

To become a volunteer for the Games, you need to commit a minimum of 12 hours over the course of the week. Volunteers will be recognized for their contribution with a volunteer uniform, pin and three post-games thank-you events. 

All registration is done online. Once the form is filled out, volunteers must complete a criminal record check before they are approved. The check can be done through the 2020 AWG office at no charge. Volunteers are asked to complete their checks as soon as possible, in order to avoid backlog closer to Games time. 

The office will stay open until 7 p.m. on Dec. 5 as part of the 100 Days To Go celebration, allowing potential volunteers a chance to get assistance with sign-up and criminal record checks. 

For more information about the volunteer opportunities available at the 2020 Arctic Winter Games, or to sign up online, visit AWG2020.org.

Volunteers Division staff Meaghen (l) and Courtney, Vice President Sue Meikle and Chair of Recruitment Bev Buckway, and AWG 2020 mascot Däch’äw

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