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A Partnership and a Promise: Keyano College and the Winter Games

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When the 2018 Wood Buffalo Alberta Winter Games open in February, it will be the culmination of months of hard work, involving cooperation from people, and institutions across our community.

As a result of that, and more efforts to come, we’re in store for an exciting and rewarding weekend. From February 16 - 19, close to 3,000 athletes, coaches, and officials will visit while competing for eight different regional zones in 22 sporting events. Over three days of competition, 11 venues within the region will be used.

Keyano College has already been involved in many ways. On September 20, the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre was the location of the Mascot Games, a lead-up event to the Winter Games that featured local mascots, including Keyano King, competing against each other for prizes and bragging rights.

The college and some of its people will provide important roles throughout. An official host venue, Keyano is proud to be a Diamond Sponsor of the Winter Games. As a result, the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre will be the scene of some exciting action as it hosts the volleyball competitions throughout the weekend.

Jason Demers, Vice President of Advancement and External Relations, says pulling together an event as large and significant as the Alberta Winter Games requires a major community effort, of which Keyano is happy to be a part of. He believes it is also an important opportunity to showcase our region to young athletes and others from across Alberta and beyond.

“We certainly want to be a part of an event that shows our community in such a positive light,” he added.


Keyano Volunteers

To successfully host the Alberta Winter Games, almost 2,000 volunteers are needed. As a result, College staff have been encouraged to offer their skills to the Winter Games committee. Some will provide volunteer help during the event. Others, including Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre Director Alan Roberts, are helping with planning. He is providing important technical advice for the opening ceremonies.

Dozens of other volunteers from Keyano College will be taking part. Of particular note is Keyano Special Events Coordinator Lauren Thomas, who took over the role as the Chair of the Winter Games Opening Ceremonies in early November.

Her experience organizing major events, including the Keyano College Gala—the institution’s centerpiece fundraiser—is being put to good use. She is working with dozens of organizations and volunteers to provide an Opening Ceremonies the athletes, coaches, and the community will remember. Some of those volunteers will include dozens of local dancers, a local rapper, and others.

“For many of these athletes, it will be their first big experience in competitive sports,” she notes. “My goal is to create a really fun experience that reflects the energy and excitement of the moment.”

For Thomas, accepting the role organizing the opening ceremonies reflects a desire to give back to her still recovering community. It also reflects a more personal return to normalcy for her.

“I am more than happy to help. After being away 14 months following the fire, this is part of my rebuilding process,” she said.


The 2018 Wood Buffalo Alberta Winter Games operate in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Alberta Sport Connection. Tickets are available in person and online at the MacDonald Island Park Box Office.

For more information or to learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit


Photo supplied by Keyano College