Winter Games donation presented at host hotel

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Matt Gardner
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Local hotels are helping the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) in its ongoing preparations for the 40th anniversary of the Saskatchewan First Nation Winter Games.

The Prince Albert Destination Marketing Fund (DMF) has donated $15,000 to the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) in support of preparations for the Saskatchewan First Nation Winter Games. Left to right: Travelodge manager Mona Selanders, PAGC marketing manager Sheryl Kimbley, DMF executive director Jayne Remenda, DMF chair Flora Larson, elder Philip Morin, PAGC vice chief Brian Hardlotte and games manager Mel Mercredi.

Prince Albert Destination Marketing Fund executive director Jayne Remenda presented the PAGC with a $15,000 cheque on behalf of the fund’s six member hotels during a Wednesday press conference at the P.A. Travelodge.

“As a $15,000 contribution … they’ll be recognized as an event sponsor for the games,” games manager Mel Mercredi said.

“So with that contribution, that can help towards covering costs for officials or security for the games that we need to house for a successful hosting of the event.”

This year’s games mark 40 years since the inauguration of the Saskatchewan First Nation Games, which began in 1974 with approximately 500 athletes participating and has since grown to become the province’s largest annual sport and cultural event.

The 2014 games -- hosted for the sixth time by the PAGC -- will thus include something of a retrospective element.

“Forty years later … we’re recognizing all the contributions that we’ve had in sport, all the people that have participated, all those that have hosted, sponsors that have been involved,” Mercredi said.

“We’ll be recognizing them at a special pavilion during the games.”

The Travelodge will serve as the host hotel for the winter games, which begin with an opening ceremony on April 20 followed by four days of athletic competition from April 21-24.

Organizers bestow host hotel status upon the venue that serves as the main area for meetings by the host organization and community members as well as games officials, dignitaries and major sponsors.

Travelodge manager Mona Selanders noted that her establishment previously served as the host hotel for the 2014 Saskatchewan First Nation Summer Games.

She praised the efforts of the winter games committee in preparing for the event.

With that contribution, that can help towards covering costs for officials or security for the games. Mel Mercredi

“It’s such a pleasure to work with Mel and his committee … On behalf of the Travelodge Hotel and all my staff, I will tell you that we are really excited,” Selanders said.

“From a tourism perspective, we can hardly wait … Instead of looking forward to the end of winter, we’re going to be looking forward to the winter games and that’s exciting.”

Remenda echoed Selanders with her praise of the committee and expanded upon the benefits of tourism associated with the games.

She noted that family, friends and spectators would be attending along with the approximately 4,000 athletes.

“It’s difficult at this point without the real numbers to estimate,” Remenda said. “But with the numbers that we do predict it will definitely be well over a $2.5-million dollar impact to the community, so that’s massive.”

Thirteen tribal council teams will appear at the games, representing areas such as Battleford, Meadow Lake and Saskatoon.

While acknowledging the economic importance of the winter games, PAGC vice chief Brian Hardlotte said the main benefit is their ability to inspire youth.

“We’re very proud … to host these games,” Hardlotte said. “I think it’ll be a good week for our youth.”

“All 74 First Nations leaderships (in Saskatchewan) support their youth in their communities and they support the games, right from when they started in 1974,” he added.

Hardlotte noted that some of those present at the Travelodge on Wednesday had previously participated in the games themselves.

“I myself also participated … I won’t say which year,” he joked.

Organizations: Travelodge Hotel, Saskatchewan First Nation Games, Prince Albert Destination Marketing Fund First Nations

Geographic location: Battleford, Meadow Lake, Saskatoon Saskatchewan

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