Nunatsiaq News
FEATURES: Nunavut November 30, 2017 - 10:30 am

Celebrating Canada 150 their own way, in Arctic Bay

New mural, community video and three days of celebration in High Arctic community

BETH BROWN
A mural that students in Arctic Bay created to honour their community and Canada's 150th birthday. (PHOTOS BY CLARE KINES)
A mural that students in Arctic Bay created to honour their community and Canada's 150th birthday. (PHOTOS BY CLARE KINES)
Jayden Eecheak holds up a gift certificate he won during one of the Canada 150 games, Nov. 14 at Arctic Bay.
Jayden Eecheak holds up a gift certificate he won during one of the Canada 150 games, Nov. 14 at Arctic Bay.
Inuujaq school teachers, and Canada 150 committee members, Sarah Alooloo (left with die), and Eunice Attagutsiak (right, with die), prepare to start a game Nov. 14 at the Arctic Bay community hall.
Inuujaq school teachers, and Canada 150 committee members, Sarah Alooloo (left with die), and Eunice Attagutsiak (right, with die), prepare to start a game Nov. 14 at the Arctic Bay community hall.
Canada 150 committee members (from bottom) Philip Kalluk, Piuyuq Enoogoo and Sarah Alooloo cut up tunnuk and tuktu in preparation for the community feast Nov. 15 in Arctic Bay.
Canada 150 committee members (from bottom) Philip Kalluk, Piuyuq Enoogoo and Sarah Alooloo cut up tunnuk and tuktu in preparation for the community feast Nov. 15 in Arctic Bay.

A new mural, meant to capture the enduring spirit of Arctic Bay, is one way youth from that High Arctic community are marking Canada’s 150th year as a country.

The large pastel art project, unveiled this month at the community hall during a cultural celebration, is set against a black backdrop and is called “Kajungirniq,” meaning eagerness.

The mural shows a drum dancer and the northern lights and, according to mural masterminds, is a representation of the essence of Arctic Bay.

“The community experiences four months of darkness each year, but during that time there is colour, energy and spirit,” wrote organizer Paulette Campbell, in an artist statement for the mural.

“The landscape is Arctic Bay and the drummer sends her rhythms vibrating into the earth and her song becomes aurora borealis moving across the sky. Kajungirniq and spirit harmonize with nature in a joyful, determined way.”

Students from the Inuujaq School art class and a community program called the Spark Art Project unveiled the piece at the end of a community-wide Canada 150 celebration that ran Nov. 14 to Nov. 16. 

The mural represents ample work and dedication from both the students and Campbell, said school principal Abdus Salam. Graduating students had a hand in choosing the theme and content of the mural.

“It was a lot of work and it was very accepted by all the community members. They loved it,” he said.

As for the three-day celebration, “the entire community was involved,” he said. 

A committee of 10 school teachers put in countless volunteer hours planning the gathering for the community, Salam said, adding the event has been in the works since March. 

The celebration began with a games night on Nov. 15, followed by a community feast the next day and a cultural showcase on the final evening. 

“Arctic Bay doesn’t have much caribou so I ordered caribou from Taloyoak,” he said. There was also lots of seal and char—both raw and in soups—to go around, he added.

“We love our country food,” said local photographer Clare Kines, who helped to create a Canada 150 video featured at the celebration.

The video includes sweeping views of the local landscape, throat singers, dog sled races and a class of Grade 3 students singing O Canada in Inuktitut.

“I am proud as a community member to take part in the celebration, specifically to represent our ancestors who have passed away and some elders who have made it this far,” said a community elder who is interviewed in the video.

“Our parents were children, or some young adults back then, and we still have the chance to be happy and to take part in the celebration.”

Community members put on a traditional clothing fashion show, the school drum club played a drum line and another group led a western-style dance. 

“That was how they decided to celebrate. It shows the spirit of the community,” said Kines, who feels the sense of community in Arctic Bay is very strong. “That’s one of the charms here.”

“The main goal was that everybody would have fun.”

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