Inuvialuit hockey player Kyra McDonald will be Team NT’s flagbearer at the Wood Buffalo 2023 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony on Sunday evening.
McDonald, from Inuvik, has also represented the NWT at the Canada Winter Games, North American Indigenous Games and a series of other events in hockey, canoeing and volleyball.
“It was the last thing I was expecting to hear and I’m beyond excited,” she said on Sunday, hours after being told she would carry the flag following a late-night arrival into the athletes’ village.
“I’m so proud that I come from Inuvik. I’m so happy I have all that support from my community, it makes all the difference.”
McDonald helped the NWT’s junior female hockey team to the 2018 Arctic Winter Games gold-medal game, a 3-2 defeat against Alaska, and was named the forward of the tournament at the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships.
The 19-year-old is in her second year at BC’s Trinity Western University studying human kinetics, a nomination letter from Team NT’s female hockey coaching staff states.
“Kyra is one of the hardest-working and most dedicated athletes,” the letter reads.
“Kyra is an amazing role model for the female and Indigenous athletes of the Northwest Territories … providing her the opportunity to be showcased as our representative, as flagbearer, will exhibit the development of our female hockey program and female athletes in our territory.”
The Arctic Winter Games begin in Fort McMurray on Sunday. The opening ceremony at 7:30pm is the main event, but a few sports are in action earlier: Team NT’s junior male futsal players were scheduled to face Alberta North at 10am, then both NT curling rinks were set to play Alberta North at 11am.
The opening ceremony will be broadcast live by the organizers and the CBC, with coverage beginning at 7pm.