Alianait Festival 2011 – Day Three: Tulugak!

While Alianait was happening, there was also a local baseball tournament happening.  As with the hockey tournament during Toonik Tyme, the Iqaluit Humane Society was also raising funds by volunteering at the baseball tournament.  Ian and I decided to cover one of the shifts, which mean working the canteen.  We got to sell beer, burgers, dogs and fries to the teams playing and the spectators.  We had loads of fun, enjoyed the absolutely beautiful sunny day and collected lots of tips for the pups and kitties at the shelter.  Well, it was fun until the wind died down and the sun got so hot!  See, in the arctic, the sun tends to get hotter than it feels down south, because you’re used to the cooler weather.  Oh, that and the larger hole in the ozone layer likely helps as well.  😉

Once the shift was over, we decided to take in the evening showing of the main performance piece of Alianait, Tulugak.  Created by Sylvia Cloutier, Tulugak was meant to tell Inuit raven stories – and there were many incorporated into the wonderful experience.  As described in the Alianait brochure, the raven is depicted as so many things:  trickster, passionate lover, nuisance, thief, and skilled hunter.  Tulugak showed these many aspects through a collaborative effort of the many performers involved in various aspects of the festivals.  It was a fantastic and funny presentation, and we’re both so glad we went.  We were in awe due to the beautiful songs…and laughed out loud at the humour spread graciously throughout the show.  Here’s some of the pictures that we managed to capture…enjoy!

Mike Philip Fencker Thomsen performing as Tulugak…

Charles Keenan and Beatrice Deer performing…

The members of Artcirq as ravens watching the hatching of a third…

Vivi Sorensen as the white raven…cleaning up the garbage!

Charles Keenan on guitar, with Mathew Nuqingaq and Laakkuluk Williamson drum dancing…Beatrice Deer singing in the background…

Laakkuluk telling the story of how Tulugak came to Baffin Island from Greenland…with Vivi and Mike Philip performing…

Angu Motzfeldt on guitar…such a treat to see him perform in this…

More drum dancing with Mike Philip, Mathew and Laakkuluk…this was so beautiful…

The performers of Tulugak!

Creator of the show, Sylvia Cloutier…

The video below is part of the Tulugak performance…wish it was better sound quality, but alas, my PAS cam isn’t the best.  Cathy and Roger, this one’s for you…Artcirq performers juggling and Mike Philip Fencker Thomsen performing Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ in English AND Inuktitut.  Beautiful!

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A Tomb Raider in Iqaluit?

If you read our own individual blogs, some of you may have heard that Ian and I had a houseguest for a few weeks.  That’s right, Angelina Jolie was visiting us as part of The Jolie Pez Project.  There’s even more details about the whole shebang – including some of the participants – right here.  It was a disastrous an interesting experience, to say the least.  The Jolie can certainly be a handful, as you may have read about on my blog, and on Ian’s.

She recently continued on her travels to Newfoundland, and once she left earlier this week, Ian and I came across something that we think she left behind – The Secret Diary of The Jolie.  We thought we’d share the contents of the diary with you…

Dear Diary,

I have been enjoying my time here in Iqaluit with Suzanne and Ian.  They’ve tried to show me a good time, but neither of them have any idea how much I’ve been learning about hunting.  I really need to get out there to experience true survival!  The polar bear at that bar we visited was only a taste of what I can do now.  I’ve learned how to use a bow and arrows to take down anything!  I can’t wait to try out the new techniques…

One of the first beasts I’d really like to try hunting is a muskox.  A muskox is a giant mythological creature with curly horns, hooves of steel…and it breathes fire!  I read about it in this book.  I might be exaggerating about some of its abilities…

But I also read that there aren’t any muskox in Iqaluit, so I’ll have to venture out further.  I took a peek at a map that my hosts have, and plotted my course.  With the right transportation, I could be hauling a fresh kill back by sundown tomorrow.

Due to the cold temperatures up here, Suzanne made me a parka.  I was thankful for it, but didn’t want it to hide my radiant beauty from the world, so I never fastened it up tight.

I needed to look for some transportation.  I found a pretty good spot…you can barely even see me up there.  Perfect for stealing a ride on something…

From my vantage point, I could see something across the way…a group of…animals perhaps?  I’d have to head back to my hosts and return here later – when it was dark.

I snuck out of the apartment while my hosts were cooking dinner.  When I returned to the location I had found earlier, I confirmed that there were a number of large dogs…they must be sled dogs!  Why they would be perfect!  I could hook them up as a team, and they could pull me out on to the land to hunt the mighty muskox!

Of course, I don’t have a sled…so what else could I do?  Then I heard it…the rumbling of a huge snow machine.  I turned quickly and saw a man heading towards me on his snowmobile.

But he was just too fast.  I couldn’t get to him before he drove off.  I was sad.  At least until I heard what would possibly be my way out.  A loud rumbling from afar caught my attention and I walked towards the sound.  Of course!  The airport!  This will be my way out of Iqaluit and up to the high Arctic so I can find muskox!

I decided to return to the apartment so as not to arouse the suspicion of my hosts.  I would have a good night’s sleep and set out.

The next morning, I headed back out to the airport.  I realized that I would not be able to fly further north…I must have lost my wallet back in New Brunswick in the dulse bin.  Foiled!

Besides…I’m pretty sure this sign said “Must be this tall to ride” in its strange hieroglyphs…

Another setback, but not to fear.  I noticed a snow-covered mountain that if I scaled, I would be able to see for miles and perhaps come across something to hunt nearby.  It was becoming quite evident that the muskox was not to be my prey…and so I climbed.

From the top, I had a great vantage point for wildlife that might be in the area.  As I kept my eyes peeled for movement, I noticed something back down at the base.  Tracks!  Huge tracks!  These had to be those of a polar bear for sure.  I rappelled down the cliff quickly and rushed to where I saw the tracks.  They turned out not to be those of polar bears, but of the local ravens.  Those birds are huge!  I mean, I’m easily 5′ 10″…and I felt dwarfed by the size of the tracks.  Perhaps I could perfect my hunting technique with them…after all, they were everywhere in this city.

Just as I was about to hijack another passing snowmobile rider, I noticed the sun was beginning its descent behind the hills.  The day is nearing its end.  And soon I will be leaving Iqaluit.  Perhaps one day I will return to this land of stark beauty.  Of cold ice and snow.  Of huge pterydactol-like birds.

Until then…I remain…
The Jolie

Quote the raven, never more…

Street toughs aren't the only gangs to watch out for...

You hear about them in virtually any northern blog but you really can’t comprehend it until you actually see one (or a bloody flock of them). I remember when we first touched down and were loading our boxes onto the flatbed of the truck, this large vulture-like creature swooped down and buzzed me. It didn’t come that close to me at all but it sounded like it did because I could hear its wings flap as it went by. I thought to myself “WTF? I didn’t know hawks were up here”.

You see, being the zoologically challenged and environmentally isolated person I am, the only experience I had with any kind of large birds came in the form of hawks that fly high overhead whenever we went to parks or wherever. They were often too far to see distinctly but based on their altitude you could assume they had some size because of their visibility.  So, having been air-raided by this avian I grew concerned for a moment. I wondered if being dive bombed by large predatory birds was a common thing up here. That put no sense of ease in my heart. Lo and behold, Mark snickered and told me that it was “just a raven”.

Just a raven.

There is no just about these mutants. They’re huge. They’re intimidating and they make weird un-birdlike sounds. I’ve heard them vocalize everything from beeps and  honks to pseudo-barks and screeches. The smallest one I’ve seen is about the size of our largest cat (and he’s pushing 18 or 19 lbs) and the largest looked like a terradactyl. Okay… so that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the sucker was still huge. When they’re gathered together having their bird conferences, they’re a force to be reckoned with.  Heck about a month back I was strolling along the outskirts of the airport taking pictures, when I came across a gully full of them. There had to have been about a dozen or so hanging out there drinking alcohol and throwing up gang signs with their wings. I’m pretty certain one of them said something derogatory towards me.  I know when it’s opportune to avoid potentially dangerous situations so I tactfully crossed over to the other side of the road and continued on my way.

Let’s just say that the ravens of the North are no joke. While I can’t confirm whether they’re truly aggressive or not, I’m not willing to gamble on engaging a flock of them on my own. To anyone thinking about coming up here there’s nothing to fear about them though. There’s an unwritten law that states “you stay out of their way, they’ll stay out of yours”.

Heh… kinda reminds of New York.