A rousing success

Toonik Tyme 2004 draws hundreds of participants


Sun, blue skies, rousing competitions, hundreds of participants and a great turn-out marked events during Toonik Tyme 2004, Iqaluit’s annual spring festival.

After such a successful week, it was no wonder Toonik Tyme’s closing ceremonies turned out to be soft, fuzzy and full of good music and good cheer.

“I have to tell you I love you,” singer and actor Tom Jackson told the crowd gathered inside Iqaluit’s Nakasuk School.

The tall, affable Jackson kick-started his set with a freestyle dialogue on love, delivered in his deep, melodious voice.

“I don’t understand why love is a mystery… if war is the answer, let’s find something new… love is the palace and you wear the crown.”

But his performance wasn’t all serious. Jackson told cornball jokes to break the ice and fooled around on stage with various silly props.

Jackson’s warm-up act was Iqaluit’s “Road to Nowhere Band,” singing goofy odes to snowmobiling and the Legion bar in Iqaluit.

“Let the blizzards blow/We’re going to the Legion/ It’s like a religion,” Errol Fletcher sang.

Elisapi Davidee-Aningmiuq, the “Honorary Toonik” for 2004, went beyond the call of duty to make sure as many people as possible enjoyed Toonik Tyme.

After she was appointed honorary Toonik, Davidee-Aningmiuq held a meeting on April 21 in the elder’s facility to announce she was donating $25 to off-set entrance fees for elders and anyone else who didn’t have enough money to attend any of the events.

Davidee-Aningmiuq observed that an increasing number of Toonik Tyme events require an entrance fee.

“I just wanted to go further,” Davidee-Aningmiuq said of her donation. “I remember when almost the whole community of Iqaluit took part in the Toonik Tyme celebrations.”

Nearly $500 was raised as several other Iqaluit residents and Government of Nunavut departments responded to her gesture.

During the closing ceremonies, the Irksuk family from Arviat, drum-dancers Matthew Newkinga and David Serkoak and throatsingers Sylvia Cloutier and Madeleine Allakariallak performed, while the lucky winners of the “Gigantic Toonik Tyme Draw” received everything from tickets to Ottawa to a home entertainment set.

Among the fortunate: Paul Kaludjak from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., who won a Coleman stove, and Nunavut’s finance minister Leona Aglukaak, who won a thermos.

The top competitors in the dog team races, igloo building, seal hunting and seal skinning contests also collected prizes.

The seal hunting contest drew 14 participants, who left at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning and returned late in the afternoon— two of them with seals. Qaqqasiq Mittima came back with two, and won a first prize of $800 and 45 gallons of gas.

Early Saturday, out on the sea ice, a crowd gathered to see dog teams head out to the old Boy Scout camp down the bay. Lynn Peplinski and her dogs returned in two hours and 58 minutes, followed by Matty McNair one minute later, to win cash prizes of $800 and $500, and Toonik Tyme flashlights.

Meanwhile, maple syrup was flowing at the Francophone Centre where a “cabane à sucre” or sugar-shack showed off Quebec’s springtime tradition.

Sunny skies and spring weather — as well as a civic holiday for Iqaluit workers on Friday afternoon — encouraged crowds to come out and cheer for contestants in the igloo building, ice sculpting and bannock-making contest, ogle the weightlifters, and play traditional games or golf on the sea-ice.

Elders also got into the spirit for a round of golf.

Events during Toonik Tyme week included a Northern band night kicked off by a set from Jimmy Ekho, who gave his first performance in a year. Ekho, also known as the “Arctic Elvis,” returned to his rock-n’-roll roots, clad in a trademark sealskin vest and flared pants, yet without his King-sized silver sunglasses.

This year’s most popular Toonik Tyme events were the opening fashion show, snowmobile drag races and the crafts fair.

On Saturday morning, several hundred people lined up to buy kamiks, carvings, mitts and other handmade products, while on Sunday, about 300 people climbed the snowbanks on the sea-ice to watch snowmobile races.

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