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!

A New Meaning for the Term IQ

I even learned what to do if I happen to run into one of these guys! (Source: Siku News, 2010)

Today I had the good fortune of attending a cultural orientation workshop.  It was a great introduction to the Inuit culture, and how they have survived in such a perceived inhospitable environment.  Myself, and a number of other employees – both new and old – attended to learn about guiding principles known as Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (pronounced kaw-yee-mah-yaw-too-kan-geet…approximately).  We also learned about Inuit history, tools, games and heard many fascinating stories from the two Elders who attended the workshop.

I have quickly learned that I am butchering a most interesting language – Inuktitut.  It is a fascinating language to listen to…sounding somewhat of a mix of an Asian dialect, with a bit of French and Middle Eastern languages thrown in.  That’s probably a horrible description actually, but that was my first impression of it.

IQ is essentially represents Inuit traditional knowledge.  Its principles read like a version of the ten commandments – though there are eight principles adopted by the Government of Nunavut.  They are wonderful concepts to live one’s life by – and I’m happy to be cognizant of adopting them into my everyday work and life.

 Inuuqatigiitsiarniq:  Concept of Respecting Others – When people show respect towards others, their relationship is strengthened and the community grows.  A strong community is capable of supporting those in need, and provides a safe environment to foster caring and more respect.  Respecting others can also be extended to respect of one’s surroundings, including the environment.

Tunnganarniq:  Concept of Being Open – We all want to belong to something bigger than ourselves.  When people are open to others through communication, a positive relationship can be developed.  These positive relationships mean consensus and acceptance to all viewpoints – or at least an understanding.

Pijitsirarniq:  Concept of Serving – The ability to serve others and the common good contributes to the leadership style of the Inuit.  It is important to understand that all members of a community are able to contribute in their own way, and each contribution should be valued.  Being selfless in serving means to recognize that your viewpoint is not the only one to consider, but is just as important as those of another.

Aajiiqatigiingniq:  Consensus – Decision Making – Decisions of any magnitude often require the agreement of a number of different viewpoints.  The concept of consensus within decision-making is important – there are often shared goals which require collaborative efforts to reach.  Resolution of conflict is one such goal, as Nunavut is a place of many different perspectives and that can lead to many conflicting viewpoints.

Pilimmaksarniq:  Skills and Knowledge Acquisition –  Living in such a difficult environment requires that its inhabitants attain skills and knowledge that has been passed down through the generations.  When one acquires such skills, one is empowered to lead their life in a productive and successful manner.

Qanuqtuurungnarniq:  Being Resourceful to Solve Problems – The climate of Nunavut means that while there are resources, they may be limited and should not be overextended.  The ability to be innovative and resourceful to tackle any and all problems is important for Inuit survival upon the land.

Piliriqatigiingniq:  Collaborative Relationship or Working Together for a Common Purpose – The Inuit believe that the whole can be more important than the individual and that working together for a common purpose is a worthwhile endeavour.  This concept also supports the idea of developing strong community relationships and concensus building for decision-making and problem solving.

Avatimik Kamattiarniq:  Environmental Stewardship – The relationship between the Inuit and the land is a strong one.  The culture has traditionally hunted and lived off of the land for generations, and protection of the environment is essential for their way of life.

These principles are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, they overlap greatly and are truly common sense.  To be honest, I think more organizations need to adopt these principles – they promote a peaceful and inclusive working environment where all are valued and looked to for input.

I’m looking forward to learning much more about the Inuit culture in my time in Iqaluit.  I hope to be able to attend more workshops like this one – and I’m sure community events will promote even further learning opportunities.  I still don’t think I’ll be able to switch gears and go out on the land to hunt anytime in the near future…  😉

First Impressions

Well now. Having been on Hoth  for over 24 hours now, I’ve settled in enough to finally let people in on the first tidbits of our little adventure. The day we arrived was a whirlwind of events, sights, faces and temperatures that’s hard to put into words. I’m sure once Suzanne gets a moment to breathe she’ll post a more accurate account of what exactly went down on days one & two. Rather than steal her thunder I’m just going to supply you with a photo gallery of shots (mostly by me walking around town today) of our first two days here. The image below is a link to the photobucket gallery. I didn’t feel quite like individually posting them in this entry because quite frankly I’d like to do things within the next 10 years. It’s not the complete set of images but a select few from the click-happy paparazzi photos I was taking. Thank you to everyone who supported us on the journey up especially Claudia, Dan, Uncle Mark, AC, and Wendy who had to put up with our mental breakdowns over the past month. Enjoy!