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De Beers returns as sponsor for Long John ice carving event

Yellowknife’s Long John Jamboree will once again feature an ice carving competition thanks to $25,000 in funding announced by De Beers Canada on Monday.

“It’s very exciting for us,” said Tom Ormsby, head of external and corporate affairs with De Beers.

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“The Long John Jamboree is such a special event for Yellowknife that we wanted to be a part of it in any way we could.”

The mining giant wasn’t able to provide funding for last year’s winter festival, leaving a $30,000 sponsorship shortfall.

De Beers made the decision mere weeks after it was forced to suspend operations at its Snap Lake diamond mine.

The 2013 Inspired Ice Carving Competition winner ‘Guardian of the Deep’.

But now that the company’s new Gahcho Kué mine is in the final stages of reaching full production, De Beers says it’s been able to “realign its resources” to match its priorities.

Before last year, De Beers sponsored the Inspired Ice Carving Competition every year since its inception in 2012.

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Ormsby says it’s important for De Beers to resume sponsorship of the winter festival’s title event.

“Now we’re in a position where we can show our support again, and the De Beers ice carving competition … is really the marquee event of that,” he said.

“We wanted to make sure that we could continue to see it flourish into what is an international competition and maybe one of the top in the world in the very near future.”

Ormsby says he wants to see the Long John Jamboree become a Yellowknife staple and tourist attraction for the NWT.

“If you look around you you’ve got fantastic people, there are world-class resources, some really amazing diamond mines [here],” said Allan Rodel, general manager at Gahcho Kué.

“If you’ve got world-class resources, fantastic people, you might as well bring a world-class event to treat those people.”

The $25,000 will go towards bringing 10 teams to the ice carving competition, both from home and internationally.

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The competition will include teams from the Northwest Territories, other parts of Canada and the United States.

Teams will start work on Mar. 23 – a day before the winter festival kicks off – and wrap up on Mar. 25 when their final products will be judged.

All other Long John Jamboree events will take place between Mar. 24 and Mar. 26 on Yellowknife Bay.

'Bzzzz' mosquito carving at 2015 Long John Jamboree
The 2015 Inspired Ice Carving Competition winner ‘Bzzzz’.
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