Nunavik’s Ivakkak dogsled race to resume tomorrow, following death of musher

Deceased named as 24-year old Willia Qullialuk of Kangiqsujuaq, originally from Akulivik

Participants and organizers prepare for the Ivakkak 2020 dogsled race in Kangirsuk. The race came to a halt yesterday, following the death of a musher. (Photo courtesy of Ivakkak)

By Nunatsiaq News

Updated at 11:30 a.m.

Nunavik’s annual Ivakkak dogsled race will resume tomorrow, after it was halted yesterday following the death of a musher.

Race organizers say that 24-year old Willia Qullialuk of Kangiqsujuaq, who is originally from Akulivik, died shortly after the race started.

In a news release, organizers said it’s too early to state the cause of death, but “we know that it was not a racing accident that lead to this unfortunate death. The body will be sent for autopsy.

“I would like to give my deepest condolences to Luuku Qullialuk, mother of Willia, her immediate family, relatives, and to his girlfriend in Kangiqsujuaq,” said Maggie Emudluk, Makivik Corp.’s vice-president of economic development, who oversees the annual race, in the news release.

“There has never been an incident like this in all years since Ivakkak started in 2001. The mushers and their support crew had an emotional meeting together in Kangirsuk last night. They prayed together, talked together and decided together to continue with the race on Thursday morning.

“We also spoke with Willia’s mother who was in Akulivik, late in the evening. She gave the blessing for the race to continue in memory and honour of her son. She and her husband said they would like to be at the finish line in Kangiqsualujjuaq in a couple weeks to see the mushers arrive and celebrate the memory of their son.”

Seven teams participated in the start of this year’s race on Tuesday, Feb. 25, in Kangirsuk.

About an hour later, after all teams had crossed the bay, Qullialuk’s team activated its emergency inReach device to call for help.

First responders from Kangirsuk left shortly after receiving the signal. Medical attendants tried to resuscitate Qullialuk, but were unable to revive him.

This year’s race route skirts along Ungava Bay, passing through the communities of Aupaluk, Tasiujaq and Kuujjuaq before crossing the finish line in Kangiqsualujjuaq. The race was initially expected to take 12 days.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by :'( Deepest condolences to immediate families, Aalummi on

    Oh what a loss, a great idol for Youth to look up to. Itjaratsasiaq inuugumanginnasuni piviirurtuviniapik. I’m sure he still wanted to live, but had a heart problems got him.

    Deepest condolences to the immediate families to Akulivik and Kangiqsujuaq.

  2. Posted by Graham Avery on

    deepest condolences to family and all team members.

  3. Posted by Rosie Lucy on

    My sincere condolences go out to the families and relatives to this young man. May you find strength in one another.

  4. Posted by Sualuaq Kugzruk on

    Condolences to the family of Willia. Here in Alaska following the Ivakkak over the last few years. Blessings on the rest of the teams.

  5. Posted by Claude Vallières on

    We would like to give our deepest condolences to Willia’s familly and friends… specially to his mother Luuku. It’s a very very sad new for both of us.
    Danielle Demers and Claude Vallières (educators in Akulivik 2003-2007)

  6. Posted by Condolences on

    Condolences to his family. Such a young energetic musher. Maybe it’s time also, we recommend at least a physical exam prior to the race. Not to say, it would have changed anything, but could have. And I know it’s difficult anyone with the desire to race, to be indicated that for health reasons they can’t, but we need to consider this for future.

  7. Posted by Bob on

    Sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends. The family are amazing to show their wishes of the race continuing. A beautiful show of spirit of their culture.

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