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Kelly Ruben, left, Henson Nasogaluak and Keegan Ruben drum dance in the gymnasium of Angik School in Paulatuk on Aug. 15. Almost the entire community, as well as invited guests turned out for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the settlement of Paulatuk. - photo courtesy of the Paulatuk Hamlet office

Paulatuk celebrates 50 years
Community turns out in droves for celebration; Paulatuk health centre re-named

John McFadden
Northern News Services
Monday, August 24, 2015

Virtually every resident of Paulatuk turned out on Aug. 15 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the settlement. Paulatuk Mayor Ray Ruben said it was a tremendous event that began with a jamboree in the afternoon. The celebrants then moved inside for the evening, he added.

"We had presentations from our guests who included NWT Legislative Assembly speaker Jackie Jacobson who is also Paulatuk's MLA, Minister of Community Affairs Robert C. McLeod and health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy," Ruben said.

"We had a feast made up of an all-traditional menu, including a tasty caribou stew and roast as well as char chowder. It's hard to say how many people were there exactly, but the gymnasium at Angik School was full. At least a couple of hundred people, counting our residents and guests."

It rained almost the entire weekend, but events were moved indoors and the rain did not dampen the spirits of the people who were there, Ruben said.

Also part of the activities was the renaming of the Paulatuk Health Centre. It is now known as the Sadie Sukayaaluk Ruben Health Centre. The long-time elder died back in 1961 at age 63, but people in Paulatuk felt it was important to rename the health centre after her because of the contributions she made to the community.

"She was my grandmother. She was a natural midwife. There were stories from my aunts, her children. She could tell if there were problems pre-birth and whether the baby was situated wrong and she knew she had to correct some of these problems herself," Ruben said. "The community voted on the name change during the last municipal election. They chose between two women. The other one was my mother."

Ruben said another big highlight of the weekend was a video presentation.

"It touched a lot of hearts like we had hoped," Ruben said. "We wanted to capture all the families that were part of the 50-year history through interviews, photos, songs, things like that. Everybody was happy to see the video and be part of our celebration."

The event went above and beyond expectations, said Jacobson.

"We danced until 4 a.m. in the morning. Traditional stuff. We had the Inuvik drummers and the midnight dancers. We had some 30 drummers going," said Jacobson.

He said it is only appropriate that the health centre was renamed after matriarch Sukayaaluk Ruben.

"She birthed practically everybody in the community before she passed," Jacobson said.

"She took care of people. It's very important to recognize her. So many in that community were related to her or knew her. You could see the pride in their faces at the dedication."

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