Long John Jamboree ‘to scale back’ after De Beers pulls out

Long John Jamboree
The Long John Jamboree site on Yellowknife Bay.
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De Beers has chosen not to provide funding for this year’s Long John Jamboree in Yellowknife.

In a statement on Monday, Jamboree organizers said the mining giant’s decision leaves a $30,000 sponsorship shortfall ahead of March’s event.

As a result, the Inspired Ice carving contest which bore De Beers’ name has been cancelled.

Adrian Bell, a Yellowknife city councillor and member of the Long John Jamboree board, said other events at the festival could be hit.

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“We found out on Friday, which is unfortunate,” Bell told Moose FM. “Due to the lateness of this announcement, we had already incurred expenses and made commitments.

“It really doesn’t put us in a position to continue with Inspired Ice for this year and in fact, because we have been spending money, it may have an impact on some other Jamboree events.

“We’re trying to measure the impact right now. We’re having that conversation, we’re trying to scramble and see what we can do to keep things together at this point.”

In the past two months, De Beers has suspended operations at its Snap Lake diamond mine and announced plans to transfer many staff from the NWT to a new headquarters in Calgary.

Background: Snap Lake – 10 things coming next for the dormant NWT mine

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However, the company is pressing ahead with plans to open its new Gahcho Kue diamond mine in the territory.

“The word we had received was it was not their intention to turn their back on the North,” said Bell.

“We had hopes that would mean they would want to continue to have a presence. We probably should have taken more of a signal from the fact that they were moving their executives south – just as a shift in the way they were doing things and the way they view their corporate responsibility.”

The Inspired Ice contest, which organizers now hope to revive for a future edition of the festival, ran for four years and attracted entrants from across the globe.

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In its place, Bell said the Jamboree may look to host a smaller ice carving demonstration “so it doesn’t disappear completely”.

'Bzzzz' mosquito carving at 2015 Long John Jamboree
The 2015 Long John Jamboree ice carving contest winner, entitled ‘Bzzzz’.

March 2015: Photos – Here’s the winning Long John Jamboree ice carving

Late last week, the Diavik diamond mine also confirmed to Moose FM that it had no plans to financially support the Long John Jamboree this year. In years past, Diavik had supported the dog derby held as part of the Jamboree weekend.

“We’ve got a good number of other sponsors,” said Bell. “The business community in Yellowknife has always been very supportive. We’re hopeful that we’ll be in a fine financial position.

“We’ve been very careful for the last four years to make sure that we’re not in a deficit position. We just need to continue with that.

“This obviously requires us to scale back this year’s event. We think we can weather this – without a doubt, though, it’s going to have a big impact.”

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