With only 365 days until the start of the Arctic Winter Games (AWG), the Host Society launched its official theme song Thursday while also announcing the 2020 AWG ambassador.
There were 12 theme song submissions but the song chosen was Bring it North, written and produced by Yukon musician Dan Ashley. The song features throat singing by Rita Claire Mike-Murphy and Kathleen Merritt. As well the Tlingit vocals composed by Blake Lepine are performed by the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers.
Youth artists Selina Heyligers-Hare, Rebecca Law, and Georgie-Ann Sam shared their voices with the production and Daniel Vigneau and Brent Gallant lent their talents on the mandolin and guitar.
Ashley said he was inspiration to write the song came after visiting northern communities.
“The inspiration originally came when I had the opportunity to go on a tour across the north of Canada last year with a bunch of amazing artists,” said Ashley. “A couple of the stops were Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit. The idea was to have all these unique voices together.
“But what the inspiration was is that we share all these common ideas even though we have really diverse backgrounds being from across the north. When this opportunity came up with the AWG it seemed like a perfect fit for the spirit of the Games.”
Growing up in Whitehorse, Ashley was a participant in the AWG and the Polar Games and said they were an influence in shaping who he is.
“I was part of the Polar Games and I was also in the AWG. I was in the 2000 Games and the 2002 Games in Nuuk, Greenland,” said Ashley. “Those were really life-changing experiences for me, I was a downhill skier. As I got a little bit older my life moved more towards music but certainly those sporting events really informed the person I am today.”
When listening to the song, Ashley hopes it invokes the feeling of big emotion.
“What we wanted to inspire was just that real sense of what it is to strive and try so hard for something,” said Ashley.
“Whether you succeed or not the team you are with, the journey that you’re taking has value and it makes you grow as a person.
“(Also) to inspire people who participating in the Games whether they are volunteers or athletes to feel that big emotion. Games are about big emotions and we tried to capture that in the song these big emotions you feel when you trying your best to excel at whatever you are doing and regardless of the outcome you grow as a person.”
Unable to hear the other entries, Ashley said there are lots of talented musicians in the Yukon and that he is fortunate his song was chosen and that so many amazing artists agreed to work with him.
As well as announcing the Games’ theme song, Yukon Olympian Jeane Lassen was named as the AWG ambassador.
Lassen was a participant in five AWG and said it helped shape her athletic career.
“Arctic Winter Games was my first international multi-sport Games experience, and played a big role in my overall athletic development, as well as fostering my love for sport,” says Lassen. “I’m excited for the opportunity to share those experiences with youth in the territory while motivating them to get engaged in the 2020 Games.”
Lassen will travel to the communities to promote the Games.
“I’m pretty stoked to be the ambassador,” said Lassen. “It means I get to travel around rural Yukon and Whitehorse often with the mascot. Hopefully, we will get people excited about the Games, volunteering, participating, leading multiculturally, just community involvement. I’m pretty pumped.”
Lassen said one of her main objectives is to work with students in rural Yukon.
“We want to go to the rural education module and have a chance to work with students from rural Yukon and give them a taste of what trying out for the AWG is like or how they can be involved if they aren’t interested in competing,” said Lassen. “
Lassen heard the theme song in its entirety for the first time and said she was blown away.
“I had heard what it was about because I know Daniel so I had a taste, but that blew me away,” said Lassen. “Often at Games, you hear the song over and over and it gets drowned out in the background. That’s not going to be possible with that song it’s to cool and to diverse, it’s going to be the best song we have had at a Games.”
In a year from now, more than 2,000 participants will be in Whitehorse competing in 21 sports. The territory will see an estimated 3,000 visitors and more than 1,800 will be required to make the Games happen.