Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce initiative to bring Olympic Spirit to Canada's
Far North

Boxes stuffed with sporting goods to be airlifted into 20 remote Aboriginal communities

WINNIPEG, Jan. 4 /CNW/ - As Canada prepares to welcome the world to the 2010 Winter Games, 20 boxes filled with donated sporting goods will be winging their way across the Far North this week to be opened and used by children in some of Canada's most remote communities as part of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce Northern Outreach Project.

The Olympic Spirit Boxes, decorated with the cheerful blue and green palette of the Games, are chock full of hockey, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and basketball equipment, as well as jerseys - enough to fully equip two teams for each of the five sports in 20 Aboriginal communities located in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The project is the latest initiative of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce Program and will enhance existing sport programs in the communities.

The equipment and jerseys have been donated by Nike, the official high performance sporting goods manufacturer for the 2010 Winter Games, while the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames have provided the hockey sticks.

"The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce Northern Outreach Project is near to all of our hearts - what better way is there to create a lasting legacy of the 2010 Winter Games than by providing children with the equipment and education they need to experience the joy of sport and develop long-term friendships and respect for others," said John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).

"The lessons and values these children will learn on the playing field - respect, fair play and inclusion - are ones that will carry over into life off the field, too, empowering them to take on an active role in their communities," continued Furlong. "We've designed our entire Olympic Truce Program to be about applying the values of sport and the Olympic Games as instruments of peace and inspiration in everyday lives."

Today, on the eve of the Olympic Flame arriving in Winnipeg, the boxes were loaded onto a Canadian Forces' CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft at Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg. The boxes will be delivered to the communities over several days, starting today with Watson Lake, YT.

"The Canadian Forces is very excited to be part of this initiative, which will inspire future young Olympians from Canada's North," said Brig.-Gen. David Millar, commander of Joint Task Force North. "The Canadian Forces Rangers in each of the communities receiving Olympic Truce boxes will assist with the delivery of the sports equipment with the help of our cadets and Junior Canadian Rangers. The Canadian Forces is extremely proud to be able to bring a part of the Olympic Games to the children of our northern communities."

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce Northern Outreach Project was created by VANOC in partnership with the Canadian Forces and the United Nations Association in Canada (UNAC) in recognition of the values and benefits of inspiring children to lead active and positive lifestyles through sport.

Along with the donated equipment, UNAC will send a UN facilitator to hold workshops in each of the 20 communities to teach youth to inspire and educate others about physical activity and the values of sport. The workshops are aimed at providing communities the tools to promote the education program themselves, thereby ensuring a continuing legacy of the project for future generations.

"Participation in sport and a sense of teamwork can truly motivate youth to become engaged in their communities," said Kate White, UNAC's executive director. "With the power and the spirit of the Olympic Games behind it, the initiative has even more potential to inspire the children involved."

The project has the support of the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Dene Nation and Canada's national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, as well as the territorial governments. The communities and the dates they will be visited are:

    
    -  January 4: Watson Lake, YT
    -  January 5: Faro and Mayo in the Yukon, as well as Norman Wells in the
       Northwest Territories
    -  January 6: Paulatuk, Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok in the Northwest
       Territories, as well as Cambridge Bay in Nunavut
    -  January 7: Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, Kugaaruk, Hall Beach, and Rankin
       Inlet in Nunavut
    -  January 8: Coral Harbour, Baker Lake, Whale Cove, and Arviat in
       Nunavut
    

Olympic Spirit Boxes will also be given to the Northwest Territories' communities of Fort Simpson, Fort Smith and Hay River by the Canadian Forces on a separate mission in early February.

"The Inuit have long understood the ability of traditional games or sport to bring people together from different places to develop friendships and strengthen cultural traditions," said Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. "That's why we're so pleased with this project - not only will it bring much needed sports equipment to some of our most remote communities, it's also focused on developing the athletic skills and leadership abilities of our children, who are our legacy and our future.

"It's also a way of reaching into communities where the Olympic Flame was unable to visit earlier this year to make them connected to the 2010 Winter Games," she added.

The Olympic Spirit Boxes will be delivered by Sharon Firth, a four-time Olympian and member of the Gwich'in First Nation in the Northwest Territories, Blythe Hartley, an Olympic bronze medallist and world champion in diving, as well as Olympic mascots Quatchi and Miga.

"As an Aboriginal athlete from Canada's North, I have had the fortune of participating in a similar program that allowed me to achieve my Olympic dreams," said Firth, a cross-country skier. "I believe that every child deserves an opportunity to participate in sport. To be part of a program that allows me to foster those dreams in the next generation of northern youth is an inspiring and special opportunity."

The delivery team will also include representatives from VANOC, UNAC, Nike, and the Canadian Forces. Each of the 20 boxes measures 1.2 metres by 1.2 m by 0.9 m and contains 40 reversible jerseys, five soccer balls, five basketballs, 20 baseball gloves, four bats and 10 balls, four bases, 25 lacrosse sticks and 10 balls, 20 hockey sticks and 10 balls, as well as ball pumps and valves.

"We are incredibly proud to be able to support the Olympic Truce mission for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games by providing sports equipment to youth in some of the most remote communities in Canada," said Sam McCracken, general manager of Nike's Native Initiative in North America. "A physically active lifestyle promotes more than exercise - involvement in sports and physical activity leads to greater self-confidence, enabling youth to be a force for positive change in their communities. The Olympic Spirit Boxes are a message to the world of the importance of fostering physically active lifestyles within Canada's Aboriginal population."

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce Northern Outreach Project is based on the success of the sport-in-a-box program, operated in this country by UNAC. The boxes and their corresponding toolkits emphasize the importance of a lifelong engagement in sport, physical activity and the appreciation of social-cultural diversity.

Note to Photo Editors:

Images of Olympic Spirit Box deliveries will be posted as high resolution downloads from VANOC's media centre image gallery at www.vancouver2010.com/media-centre.

About the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce Program

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games mark the first time Canada has been responsible for leading Olympic Truce efforts since the ancient tradition, dating back to 776 BC in Greece, was revitalized in 1992. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, is patron of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce.

The philosophy of the Olympic Truce is simple: sport can inspire peace. In less than 40 days, athletes will set aside their political, religious and social differences and compete on a level playing field in the pursuit of excellence at Canada's Games. Their sportsmanship and behaviour are examples of how countries and individuals can find constructive ways to uphold the values of respect and friendship. For more information, visit www.vancouver2010.com and www.olympictruce.org.

About VANOC

VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit www.vancouver2010.com.

SOURCE VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES

For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: Suzanne Walters, VANOC Communications, Tel. (604) 403-2386, E-mail: suzanne_walters@vancouver2010.com; Jennifer Taylor, public affairs adviser, Joint Task Force North, Tel: (867) 873-0700 (ext. 6922), Cell: (867) 444-9228, E-mail: jennifer.taylor@forces.gc.ca; Stephen Hendrie, director of communications, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Tel: (613) 238-8181, E-mail: hendrie@itk.ca

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VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES

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