Edward Lennie

When Edward Lennie heard the Arctic Winter Games were to be held in Yellowknife in 1970, he was dismayed: “How could they call something the Arctic Winter Games when there was nothing Arctic about them?” More than 30 years later, Mr. Lennie fixed all that.  Northern Games – the one-foot kick, seal skinning, bannock making and traditional dancing, to name only a few – are alive and well in Canada’s North. In 2000, the games that Mr. Lennie founded celebrated their 30th anniversary and are a vibrant part of Arctic life. From Alaska to Labrador, they provide the Inuit with a critical cultural exchange and a chance to reconnect with an ancient past. Their components have also taken their rightful place in the Arctic Winter Games and are now demonstration sports in the Canada Games. “He led, taught by example and we are richer for it,” an Inuit leader once said. Mr. Lennie trained athletes himself, raised funds when necessary and brought his beloved games and culture to a wider audience through performances for royalty, prime ministers and national television audiences. Needless to say, Northern youth have taken up this Elder’s call. “Wherever the Inuit came from, that’s where it all started,” Mr. Lennie says in describing Northern Games. “All these sports just fit into one life story. A guy that moves slowly doesn’t have to be fast, as long as he thinks fast. The best way I can explain it is to keep playing the games.” And you can be sure the Inuit will keep playing Northern Games — for generations to come. Thanks to Edward Lennie.