At southern festivities, there’s no taste like home

Country foods on the menu at holiday celebrations in Montreal and Ottawa


Nearly 1,000 Inuit in Montreal and Ottawa savoured a taste of the North at Christmas parties organized by the Association of Montreal Inuit and Tungasuvinngat Inuit last Saturday night.

“It was a great party,” Morgan Hare, TI’s executive director, said of the Ottawa bash that drew 500 to St. Joseph’s parish hall on Laurier Avenue.

Inuit from Ottawa and surrounding communities — some driving in from more than an hour away — came to the party, where hundreds of pounds of caribou, char and muktuk from Keewatin Meat & Fish, as well as turkey and other holiday foods were served, and Santa handed out more than 400 gifts.

Inuktitut Christmas carols, throatsinging and games rounded out the evening’s activities, which were hosted by Eva Kigutak and Santa, played by Dion Metcalf of Labrador.

TI picks up 90 per cent of the $5,000 tab for this annual party.

Meanwhile, similar festivities were going on at AMI’s annual Christmas bash for 400 people at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Lachine, which featured country food from Inukjuak, Akulivik and Kuujjuaq, music by Charlie Adams, and games, gifts for kids, and door prizes.

It’s the fifth year that AMI has organized a Christmas party — and each year more people show up.

This year they were also able to send home messages to friends and families in the North, as APTN recorded greetings for broadcast later over the holidays.

Students from Vanguard School, a school for the learning disabled in Ville St-Laurent, who will be heading up to Kuujjuaq in the new year as part of a student exchange with Jaanimmarik School, were also on hand.

“I had a blast. The kids had a blast,” said their teacher, Eric Angan.

AMI budgets $4,000 for the Christmas celebration, relying heavily on donations from Nunavik’s organizations to help cover expenses and supplies.

Without any core operating budget, AMI also manages to distribute holiday food boxes to Inuit in Montreal. This year, collection boxes were placed at the Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec headquarters in Baie d’Urfé and at the St-Laurent offices of Makivik Corp. and the Kativik School Board in Montreal.

Vic Mesher, AMI’s tireless volunteer head, said any gifts that remain unallocated, including donations of new or nearly new hockey equipment, will be sent to Nunavik.

“It’s the least we can do,” Mesher said.

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