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Rankin pays tribute to the North
Nunavut Day celebrations take over hamlet with food, music and fun

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Even the most stoic of Northerners had a smile on their face on July 9 as crowds of people mingled in Rankin Inlet to celebrate Nunavut Day.

NNSL photograph

Veroniquez Nirlungayuk, left, and Iqaluk Nirlungayuk help elder Mary Kaput to make tea during a tea-boiling contest on July 9. - April Hudson/NNSL photo

Hundreds of people turned out for the afternoon, which began at 1 p.m. with an opening prayer and then a welcome from Kivalliq Inuit Association president David Ningeongan. The afternoon gave way to hours of live music, played mostly by Arviat's Calvin Pameolik and Kugluktuk's Gustin Adjun, games and contests.

Pameolik sang and played guitar while Adjun broke out the fiddle. He also helped sing some of the songs. The music included well-known favourites as well as original tunes.

The line-up for free hamburgers and hotdogs stretched out in front of the arena throughout the entire event.

The day was organized by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), with help from Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA).

NTI's Gabriel Nirlungayuk, director of Inuit programs and services, said the day was for people of all ages, from young children to elders.

Nirlungayuk volunteered to help with the elders' games, which included tea boiling and bannock making.

"I noticed the women elders are very confident," he said, adding he hopes to see more male elders participate next year.

As for the rest of the day, Nirlungayuk said he was happy to see the amount of people who came out despite the weather.

The music by Pameolik and Adjun was a highlight, he added.

"I think it went very good, overall. (Our entertainers) were young people, very talented - it's very encouraging to see young up-and-coming performers," he said.

"They were fantastic."

A traditional clothing contest, which was open to all ages, saw two-year-old Teresina Wadland take home first place out of a crowd of women and girls.

Veroniquez Nirlungayuk, who joined elder Mary Kaput as she participated in the tea-boiling competition, and Iqaluk Nirlungayuk kept warm in caribou fur garments, which Veroniquez said had been made by her mother.

As tea-boiling heated up, people began to line the road to try their hand at the egg toss or egg race.

Helen Shearman spent time watching the adult games during the latter part of the afternoon.

She described the day's events as "perfect."

"Their sense of fun is so beautiful," she said as she watched pairs of people laugh while tossing eggs back and forth.

That game grew messy, leaving an egg-splattered road behind.

Other events throughout the day included prize draws, a craft and bake sale and a draw for Calm Air tickets, which was open to residents across the Kivalliq.

The cake-decorating contest drew some fierce competition, with talented artists creating scenic landscapes for their Nunavut Day desserts.

Tatonya Autut took home first place in that competition with a cake that showed greenery surrounding a dirt trail around a lake.

Second place went to Nancy Gordon for her interpretation of a river flowing through grass and sand. Third place went to Jim MacDonald.

The day came to a close with door prizes and a candy toss.

Gabriel Nirlungayuk said he wanted to thank numerous community businesses and organizations that helped make the celebrations possible.

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