Alianait Festival 2011 – Day Two & Canada Day in Iqaluit

We were back volunteering at Alianait for Canada Day.  Bought some tickets for the Duck Race that’s going to be taking place in support of the firefighters – yes…a duck race!  First prize?  Tickets on First Air from Ottawa to Iqaluit – round trip.  Fingers are crossed for another winning ticket!

We were tired out by the end of the day, so we didn’t get a chance to get out to the concert that night, but we had lots of fun during the Canada Day festivities.  Here’s some pictures from our beautiful day!

Arriving at the festivities...you might not be able to see it, but there's a LOT of people there...

Line up for the fry truck...and we waited the WHOLE time...

Bouncy castles...and lots of people mingling

So many kids...everywhere!

The Alianait Big Top!

Mission: Destroy Canada Day cake. Mission: Accomplished.

Fry truck Canada Day/Alianait weekend prices. They were cheaper last weekend...honest!

Contrast...

Kids painting the murals...

Square dance in the Big Top!

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Alianait Festival 2011 – Day One

With the July long weekend comes the hottest, coolest festival on top of the worldAlianait!  Alianait is Inuktitut for something that is wonderful – or being very very happy.  It has been an exciting few days and now that it’s winding down, we can start giving a day by day recap.

As with many other large events in Iqaluit, it lives and dies by the efforts of the volunteers.  Ian and I have been helping out again with this event and enjoying every minute of it.  I took some time off of work on Thursday to help out manning the ticket and merchandise tables.  It was grey, and most people were working, so not very busy.  But we met some of the other volunteers, including a woman (Hi June!) whose mother grew up a few houses over from where we lived in Kitchener…small world!

Ian modeling the cool schwag you get as a volunteer...

There are two main stages for the festival…the Big Top and the Main Festival stage.

This is the Big Top Stage.

This is the main Festival Stage (in Nakasuk School).

The Big Tent held showcases, a square dance and workshops, and the main Festival Stage was where it was at each evening of the Festival.  The first night was a nice introduction to some great Canadian (and international) music.  Lots of blurry pictures and low quality videos ahead…what do you want for a basic point and shoot camera?

First up was the April Verch Band.  The band is based out of Ottawa, but bassist/banjoist Cody Walters is from North Carolina and guitarist Clay Ross is from Brooklyn, NY.  April herself is phenomenal on the fiddle and performs Ottawa Valley Stepdancing while fiddling.  Pretty amazing.

Next up were the Gregor Boys from Labrador.  The “boys” included an eclectic range of ages of men playing “traditional” Inuit rock.  I unfortunately don’t know if I’m spelling their name correctly – they don’t seem to have a web presence and appear to have been a replacement for someone in the program.  Regardless, they rocked the house and got some folks up on their feet and dancing.

Coming from Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory was a quartet of women playing old time string music with pretty amazing vocal harmonizing – Annie Lou.  They were a little too country for my liking, but you can’t deny that they were good at what they did.  The music was highly evocative of another time, and certainly another place.

The final performer of the evening was Angu Motzfeldt.  An indie musician from Greenland, the program described him as “Greenland’s male opposite to Bjork but with a touch of U2’s ‘Joshua Tree’ and the psychedelic rock of Blow Up Hollywood”.  Not necessarily how I’d describe his music – it was more like Chris Martin of Coldplay with an Inuk twist.  No matter…truly beautiful work.  I definitely picked up his newest CD Burning Blue Skies which also features his band.  But Angu on his own is soulful and dreamy.  Perfect for helping someone sleep in the 24 hour sunlight…

And really, what night would be complete without me stalking someone for an autograph or a picture.  😉

Is that a smile? Or a look of worry? Don't worry, Angu. I am still having trouble opening the CD to be signed. You can run away while I'm distracted!

Don’t forget to keep checking for the rest of the Alianait posts…they’re coming soon…

Toonik Tyme Wrap-up – The “Better Late Than Never” Edition

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.

Stage at the Opening Ceremonies

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!

Throat singers

Folk singing with Aaju Peter

Friday night was Northern Bands night at the Cadet Hall.  There is some amazing talent in this little city of ours.  We were very happy to be introduced to Josh Qaumariaq, Michael Doyle, Jordan Grenke, and so many other talented musicians.  I wish I could remember them all, but they were all amazing.  It makes me want to get into playing music again!
 

Josh Qaumariaq & his band - this guy's voice...INCREDIBLE blues singer!

Mike Doyle & friends...a VERY talented bunch!

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.

Missy and Sileema manning the St. Jude’s booth – raising money to finish rebuilding the church…

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!

Ian and the large arctic char that now resides in our freezer

Carving ice sculptures in the cold

Ian...seconds after biting into a frozen burger

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!

Ian with the boys in security

The Reason rocking Iqaluit

Suzanne playing groupie with Adam White of The Reason

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!

Two of our little helpers at the hockey tournament

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!

Spring = Toonik Tyme!

Source: Toonik Tyme Society

It’s springtime in Iqaluit! You might not know it with how cold the wind chill has been for the past week, but the biggest sign of its arrival is the annual week-long spring festival known as Toonik Tyme. The festival has been happening in Iqaluit since 1965. It is meant to welcome to coming of longer days and to usher out the bitter cold winter. Perhaps it will herald a return to a more regular blogging schedule for me us as well.

Today is the first official day of the Toonik Tyme, marked by the opening ceremonies being held at the curling rink tonight. The next seven days will be full of traditional and not-so traditional activities, including igloo building, and tea and bannock making contests, snowmobile races, dogsled races, craft shows, a country foods fair, hockey and basketball tournaments, and concerts. There will be so many things to do and see, especially for noobs like Ian and I.

We’ll also find out who the Honorary Toonik is this year.  Every year, an individual is selected to preside over the event.  Past Tooniks have included former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, Prince Charles, and various Greenlandic officials.  More recently however, local individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the community have received the honour.

We’re hoping to get out to a lot of events, and will be volunteering at one or two as well. Hope to have lots of pictures for you all to see in the coming days!

Concert Series, Arts Festival & Art Contest

Alianait Concert Series & Arts Festival 2011

Image Source: Aboriginal Peoples Choice.com

We caught wind of this a couple weeks ago while at a crafts show. Alianait Entertainment is producing a concert series that will span the rest of 2011. Those who are unfamiliar with the name, they’re the innovators behind the Alianait Arts Festival which is held every year. From what we’ve heard and read it’s one heck of an event with live music, arts & crafts ehibits and lots of local delicacies. We’re very much looking forward to it. However prior to that is the concert series which kicks off March 19th with award-winning singer/songwriter Leela Gilday.

I’m not familar with her work but I’ve heard rave reviews so I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t been to a concert since Massive Attack played in Toronto last year so I’m kinda itchin’ for some live music. If we do decide to go one of us will be sure to write a review of it.

She’ll be performing at the Inuksuk High School between 7:30pm and 10pm this Saturday. Tickets are on sale at Ventures. For more information on the Alianait Concert Series and Arts Festival visit their website and/or Like them on Facebook!

“Raven Harmonies” Art Contest

The Nunavut Arts & Crafts Association has partnered with Alianait for a Nunavut-wide art competition. The contest theme is ‘RAVEN HARMONIES’ with the winning design being chosen for the Festival t-shirt and guide. Any form of art will be accepted.

Submit your design by email or mail as a ‘PDF’, ‘jpg’ or photo of your artwork by 5 pm March 28th 2011  to:

Alianait Arts Festival
Box 568
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Email: heather@alianait.ca

So all you talented artists out there throw your two cents worth in and see if you can become a part of history. I’m even considering chucking an entry into there. Even though wildlife really isn’t my forte’ (I tend to be more along the lines of the creepy, horrific, demonic, big boobed style artwork)  but  I’m willing to take a stab at it. Who knows what will come of it? Stranger things have happened. 😉