It’s time for Christmas Games in Nunavut

Annual contests, celebrations kick off around the territory after 2-year hiatus

Four people provide some tug-of-war action in Pangnirtung during the community’s Christmas games in 2018. (Photo by David Kilabuk)

By Emma Tranter

As Nunavummiut begin to gather with family and friends for the holidays, there’s one event on many people’s minds.

After two years of cancellations, it’s time for Christmas Games.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant the games couldn’t take place in most communities over the past two years.

The annual contests and competitions kick off across Nunavut this weekend, with events like a traditional clothing contest using plastic bags in Iqaluit and a snowmobile and ATV parade in Gjoa Haven.

Amber Eleehetook, Gjoa Haven’s community wellness manager, said things were already underway in the hamlet last week with a Christmas flea market and a talent show.

“We’re going to celebrate the way Gjoa Haveners know how. We dance, we gather,” she said.

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“I want to make this Christmas a good one. I enjoy my job and I love my community.”

Eleehetook said the community was also this year’s recipient of Canadian North’s Christmas toy drive.

“We have about 600 to 700 toys to distribute to kids in the community,” she said.

Other activities in Gjoa Haven include an ice sculpture contest, a Christmas lights contest for households, a Christmas talent show, a parade and Christmas dances with live music.

Eleehetook said although it’s a joyous time of year, it’s also a difficult one for people who might be struggling.

“People are grieving, and it’s tough to see and hear people that are grieving,” she said.

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But with two years of cancellations and virtual celebrations behind them, Eleehetook said the community is ready to come together again over the holidays, especially for the little ones.

“The kids are happy. They’re excited,” she said.

The events in Iqaluit, organized by local non-profit 123Go, kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at Nakasuk Elementary School.

The games in Iqaluit will run until New Year’s Eve, with no events on Christmas Day. The games will wrap up in Iqaluit with the annual fireworks show on New Year’s Eve.

In Cambridge Bay, the hamlet launched its Christmas Games on Dec. 12 with after-school games for kids. The games will also run in the community hall and the high school until New Year’s Eve.

Other games scheduled in Cambridge Bay include radio trivia, an elders’ cookie drive, a crib tournament and fireworks on New Year’s Eve.


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