Hundreds gather in Ottawa to celebrate Inuit culture

International Inuit Day is observed on Nov. 7

Students from Nunavut Sivuniksavut perform during an event to celebrate International Inuit Day in Ottawa’s Annie Pootoogook Park on Sunday. Nov. 7 is observed as International Inuit Day. (Photo by Madalyn Howitt)

By Madalyn Howitt

An overcast afternoon in Ottawa couldn’t dampen the joyful atmosphere of International Inuit Day celebrations on Sunday.

Around 300 people gathered in Annie Pootoogook Park to mark the annual celebration of Inuit culture, which is officially observed Monday.

The Isaruit Inuit Arts group and the City of Ottawa partnered to bring performances, arts vendors, traditional Inuit games and a community feast to the downtown park. 

Students from Ottawa’s Nunavut Sivuniksavut school performed throat singing, drumming and Inuit games like knuckle hop, where players battle it out to see how long they can do hopping pushups on their knuckles. They also demonstrated leg hooking, where two players try to flip each over by lying on their backs and hooking their legs in the air. 

Student Nivi Rosing, originally from Nuuk, Greenland, shared with the crowd that after speaking only Danish until she was 16, she has reconnected with her Greenlandic language and regained her fluency and connection to Inuit culture. 

She spoke about being proud of being Inuit and urging others to make sure Inuit voices are heard on the world stage. 

“If you are making decisions about the Arctic, you must include Inuit voices. Nothing about us without us,” she said.

Nunavut MP Lori Idlout said she “had been smiling since [she] arrived,” happy about seeing so many familiar faces at the festivities. 

Outgoing Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury was joined onstage by his successor Stéphanie Plante, one of several people who helped get the Sandy Hill park renamed last year after renowned Inuk artist Annie Pootogook, who died in Ottawa in 2016. 

Ottawa’s Rideau-Vanier ward, where the park is located, boasts the largest concentration of Inuit in the city, Plante said. 

“This is your park,” Fleury said, encouraging Ottawa’s Inuit community to continue holding cultural events there.  

A sombre point in the afternoon came when a moment of silence was held for Pootoogook and Mary Papatsie, an Inuk woman who had been missing since 2017 and whose remains were recently found in nearby Vanier. 

The day ended with a candy toss and a country food feast with bannock, seal meat, Arctic char and desserts for the many families in attendance. 

See below for some snapshots of the International Inuit Day celebration.

  • Host Aliqa Illauq (right) and her mother Beverly Illauq of the Isaruit Inuit Arts organization address the crowd at the International Inuit Day celebrations in Ottawa's Annie Pootoogook Park on Sunday. Isaruit partnered with the City of Ottawa to put on the event. (Photo by Madalyn Howitt)
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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Umingmak on

    I wish that there were more events like this in cities like Winnipeg and Edmonton, both of which have significant Inuit populations, though smaller than that of Ottawa. Yellowknife has always been good for this, though they do tend to (rightfully) focus more on the Inuvialuit side.

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  2. Posted by 867 on

    “This is your park,” Fleury said

    No, it’s the city of Ottawa’s Park, and they recently changed the name to Annie Pootoogook out of respect, but mainly to stroke his woke councillor ego so he can claim he’s an reconciliation ally. Something to add to his resume i guess. Some Councilors say the darndest things sometimes

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    • Posted by Your Park In A Different Neighbourhood on

      It’s always been a strange choice to me that they renamed Sandy Hill Park in memoriam. Yes, as stated in the article, the Rideau-Vanier ward may have a large concentration of Inuit, but not actually in that neighbourhood. The Sandy Hill neighbourhood is full of students and fairly high-income families, it is not a place where Annie Pootoogook spent any time. She spent her time, as well as most of the Inuit residing in that ward, in the Vanier neighbourhood, which is across the Rideau River from Sandy Hill. Forbes Park or the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre would’ve been much more appropriate places to rename.

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      • Posted by Vanier vs Sandy Hill on

        Yep.
        .
        Sandy Hill has 245 Indigenous People.
        Vanier has 1225 Indigenous People.

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      • Posted by Uvagut on

        Be grateful for the naming of the park, this is a start of recognizing Inuit artists.

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      • Posted by 867 on

        I’ve never heard something remotely intelligent coming from this account. Loves to downvote and make blanket statements but lacking the ability to think critically.

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  3. Posted by Bobbie Bree on

    When was this day invented? Don’t remember it last year.

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  4. Posted by Suggestion on

    Suggestion for NS – get matching atigis it looks more professional and formal!

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    • Posted by Sheena Kayasark on

      It may look professional and formal to use matching clothing but in reality we don’t wear matching clothing all the time.
      Just wanted to educate you about how Inuit dress.🙂

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      • Posted by Holy Motors on

        Sincerely curious how you can be so certain your opinion is representative of the larger consensus on this question?

        To say ‘we don’t wear matching clothing’ all the time is surely obvious, but the point seems to be that in a formal presentation standardization would look better, leaving a durable impression.

        What strikes you as being ‘wrong’ with that, but not just wrong, in violation of some, apparently, larger pattern or principle?

      • Posted by Suggestion on

        I am Inuk too. I understand that many regions have different styles BUT NS can have a standard design and it would look a lot more formal for events like this.

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