After a week and a half of being fairly sick, and then being forced to recover from the results of a disappointing election, I am finally back to sum up – as promised – our first experience with Toonik Tyme. I have also been significantly shamed into getting my fingers back on the keyboard, so thanks for that Ian. 😉 If you read this blog just for the pictures, then you’re in luck. Ian has advised me that we uploaded about 90 new shots from the festival in Iqaluit that heralds the coming of spring.
The festival was heralded in through the use of the opening ceremonies. Many of the larger events were being held at the Curling Rink, and this was no exception. From what Ian and I could see, there was a great turnout. Plenty of people were volunteering to help out with upcoming events and all volunteers got this lime green t-shirt. Can’t miss a person in this thing! We had planned on helping out at a few events, and so grabbed our shirts that night so we’d be ready.
The opening ceremonies began with the lighting of the traditional qulliq by a local elder. She told us a lovely anecdote about how stinky seal oil can be when it’s old – apparently it was old that night, because she wasn’t impressed by the smell at all. We finally got to experience Inuit throat singing! It’s traditionally performed by Inuit girls or women, almost as a game. The two women face each other and sing back and forth, attempting to make the other laugh. I’m glad we got to see it, as it’s something to experience for yourself for sure. We have a couple of videos of some of the singers. I’ll try to get some of them uploaded at some point. But let’s just say that the internet up here leaves something to be desired when it comes to uploading videos.
There were a number of throat singing acts, including a woman from Nunavut who partnered up with a woman from Finland (if I recall correctly) for a mix of Inuit throat singing with Joik – a traditional singing style of the Sámi people. The Sámi are the arctic indigenous people of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. We were also treated to local singer Aaju Peter, as well as some exchange students in Iqaluit. Unfortunately my memory is hazy on names and places, and we must have thrown out the schedule for the night. Boo!
Saturday was by far our busiest day. We were in line for the craft show at 9 AM for its 10 AM start on the very good advice of a friend. The show was full of all kinds of vendors. Food, clothing, traditional art and carvings, fur, coffee…something for everyone! I easily got waylaid by the first table we passed – it was filled with cheese! There were so many tables there that we barely got to see everything. The crowd quickly made its way into the Curling Rink and people were everywhere. We picked up a few gifts for people and some more goodies for ourselves and were off.
Following the craft show, we headed back out for some of the outdoor events. We didn’t get to see everything that was going on that day. There were so many events…snowmobile races, igloo building, ice carving, barbecues, dogsled races. So much to do, and not enough time to do it all!
After a quick nap, Ian and I headed back to the Curling Rink for the annual “big band” night. Every year, a band from down south is flown in to perform. The White Stripes have been here. Last year it was The Trews. This year, a band out of Hamilton, Ontario graced us with their presence…The Reason. We volunteered at the event. Ian got to handle security, and I manned the door, taking tickets. It was a great night, and we ended up being able to watch the band once all of the volunteer duties were complete. And of course, in my usual groupie ways, I snuck in a picture of myself with the singer, Adam. All in all, we had a great night! Live music is so much fun!
After a very late night cleaning up from the show, we were back at it again in the morning. This time, we were helping to sell tickets at the Toonik Tyme Hockey Tournament. The proceeds were going to the Iqaluit Humane Society, and we ended up raising $2000 for our efforts. The hockey tournament featured teams from across Nunavut and Nunavik. We were there on the championship day, during the semi-final games. It was very busy, and we met a tonne of people, including some really helpful kids. So cute!
Sunday was unfortunately the end of our Toonik Tyme adventures. We wanted to get back out for the closing ceremonies, but both of us ended up feeling pretty sick that night. It’s too bad, as I heard it was quite good, with more performers similar to the opening night.
So there you have it. Finally. We’re looking forward to Toonik Tyme next year. In fact, I’ve already started making inquiries about being a part of the board. It’s great to be a part of things in this city, and when it comes down to it, the best way to do that is to volunteer. Happy spring everyone!