Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit March 26, 2013 - 8:48 am

Iqaluit’s Toonik Tyme goes smoke-free

Spring festival starts April 12

PETER VARGA
The spirit of Toonik Tyme: Maiya, Emma and Jeremy Nadrowski take a break for hot chocolate during the 2012 Toonik Tyme festivities. Toonik Tyme 2013 has activities for all ages and is expected to start April 12 this year. (FILE PHOTO)
The spirit of Toonik Tyme: Maiya, Emma and Jeremy Nadrowski take a break for hot chocolate during the 2012 Toonik Tyme festivities. Toonik Tyme 2013 has activities for all ages and is expected to start April 12 this year. (FILE PHOTO)

With a string of warmer-than-average days, Iqaluit seems poised for an early spring.

And this year organizers of Iqaluit’s Toonik Tyme festival plan to start celebrating the arrival of warmer weather by going smoke-free during the April event.

The spring festival’s 48th edition, April 12 to April 21, will include the usual rush of open-air activities throughout the city and out on the hills, lakes and sea ice.

However, this year you won’t smell any blowing smoke.

“Toonik Tyme is going smoke-free and we’ll be gently reminding people of that,” said the festival’s volunteer board president Janet Brewster.

“We’re encouraging everybody at our outdoor events to refrain from smoking,” Brewster said, noting Toonik Tyme is the first event in Nunavut to do so.

Designated areas will be set up for smokers, she said, but the idea is to keep children and families free from any second-hand smoke.

Events get under way on the civic holiday of April 12, well before opening celebrations slated for that evening, starting with a soapstone-carving contest at the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit museum.

Open-air events taking place that afternoon, a civic holiday in Iqaluit, include adult ice-golfing, a family sliding party on the Road to Nowhere, outdoor soccer at Nakasuk School, and a scavenger hunt.

Taking place indoors during the opening weekend: the open basketball tournament at the high school, and men’s hockey tournament.

The elders’ Qammak will host bingo for elders during the afternoon of April 12.

Opening celebrations at the Curling Rink later that evening will feature the Rankin Inlet band, the Roughcuts’ northern blues, rock and gospel music.

That venue will be the centre of other major performances on April 18, with music from Iqaluit’s Jerry Cans band. The Big Band Night scheduled for April 20 features Juno Award-winner Holly McNarland — opened by Iqaluit’s blues-rock band, the Trade-offs, with tickets now on sale for $40.

Traditional events will be at their busiest on the opening weekend. A country food market will be held at Iqaluit Square, starting at 11 a.m. on April 13, an igloo-building contest at 1 p.m. behind the courthouse, a craft sale, also at 1 p.m., in the Curling Rink, and a family cultural craft program at the library at 1:30 p.m.

The traditional dog team race takes place April 14 on the sea ice at 10 a.m., and that afternoon Nakasuk School will host a tea-boiling and bannock-making contest, followed by traditional games.

This year’s closing event on April 21 will be a pancake breakfast put on by the Rotary Club, taking place at Inuksuk high school at 11 a.m.

Still, ski enthusiasts and snowmobile drag racers will have a chance to include their own events throughout the day, with the adult full-day ski trip opening that morning at the Arctic Winter Games centre and drag races starting at 1 p.m. that afternoon on the sea ice.

“A lot of people came to us with events they wanted to run on Sunday, so we extended it,” said Brewster.

The Toonik Tyme Society is also looking for nominations for this year’s honorary “Toonik,” who presides over the festival. 

In the early years of Toonik Tyme, this honour was often given to a distinguished guest, invited to preside over the week’s festivities.

The ranks of past honorary Tooniks include John Diefenbaker, former prime minister of Canada, Prince Charles, former governor-generals, and former commissioners of the Northwest Territories, a former premier of Greenland, and a former mayor of Nuuk.

“Our first Toonik was an Inuk from Cape Dorset, his name was Atchealak…he used to be my clerk at the Hudson Bay Company, a real handyman he was, always around to help out … he dressed up in caribou furs and came over the hill by dog team… it was really quite dramatic and exciting with all the Inuit dancing and music,” said Gordon Rennie, who was himself chosen as the honorary Toonik for 1970.

In more recent years, the honourary Toonik award has gone to an individual considered to be “an outstanding volunteer who demonstrates exceptional community spirit,” such as elder Inuapik Sageaktook, the 2009 honourary Toonik, speed skating coach John Maurice, the 2010 honourary Toonik, or Solomon Awa, leader of the successful bowhead whale hunt near Iqaluit in 2011, who was 2012’s honorary Toonik.

If you can think of someone deserving of this honour, you can contact Toonik Tyme with a message on the festival’s Facebook page, with the following information: the name of the person you’re nominating and what they have done to make Iqaluit a better place to live.

As for volunteers, Toonik Tyme continues to look for people willing to help out at the events, and organizers have been recruiting volunteers online and at the Northmart on the weekends.

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