When the NWT's athletes go for the W at March's Arctic Winter Games, they will also be leaving one behind.
Team NWT, the name under which the territory's athletes compete at major multi-sport events, will be known as Team NT at its home Arctic Winter Games in Hay River and Fort Smith.
Doug Rentmeister is the executive director of Sport North, the agency tasked with overseeing the territory's participation in major events. He told Cabin Radio the change was driven in part by the fact that other provinces and territories use two letters, not three.
"There were a variety of reasons," said Rentmeister. "We felt we should be consistent with the other provinces and territories going to Canada Games and the North American Indigenous Games. All of them have gone to the two-letter abbreviated form."
Prince Edward Island's Team PEI, which is awkward to shorten by virtue of the province's three-word name, is the only other jurisdiction to regularly use a three-letter abbreviation at multi-sport events.
Though the Northwest Territories is most commonly shortened by its residents to 'NWT', NT is also in regular use. The territory's postal addresses are usually styled 'NT' and, more importantly, the athletes themselves have been using NT more readily than NWT for years.
The territory's go-to cheer at major sports events – a rowdy if unimaginative "N-what? N-T!" – entirely disregards the W which has, until now, been emblazoned on athletes' chests.
"That's one of the reasons we went ahead with it," said Rentmeister. A panel featuring the territorial government, the Sport and Recreation Council, the Aboriginal Sports Circle and Sport North jointly signed off on the decision.
"There was a lot of discussion about it," he continued. "It was felt that the Arctic Winter Games in our home territory, to market it for these Games made sense versus doing it at a national event.
"There’s a lot of traditionalists out there and a lot of people value the ‘NWT’ and the difference it portrayed, but the committee and the various groups felt that it was time to take the next step and rebrand."