Katikvik Pinnguartulirijiit: Let the games begin again
Six Iqaluit residents are making a big effort to revive traditional Inuit games in Iqaluit.
Iqalungmiut will now be able to play Inuktitut baseball, ear pulling and harpoon throwing every month, thanks to a group of residents who wants to revive Inuit traditional games in Iqaluit.
The first of the day-long games, called Katikvik Days, is scheduled for Jan. 27 and promises an array of traditional activities.
The games are the project of six Iqaluit residents — Sytukie Joamie, Pitseolak Alainga, Jerry Ell, Gideonie Joamie, Pauloosie Nuyalia and Charlie Sagiatok — who say participation in Inuit games has waned over the past few years.
“Although we are Inuit and although we have been running games, we have been swaying away from traditional games,” Sytukie Joamie said.
“So the bottom line is to put our traditional games in the forefront again.”
Katikvik, which means “a place for gathering” in Inuktitut, is a fitting name for the games. “The focus of our group is to get people together to get a sense of community togetherness,” Joamie explained.
Joamie, along with the others, formed an organization called Katikvik Pinnguartulirijiit to get the games going.
Jerry Ell said they want Iqaluit to have regular events where the community can come to socialize and play games.
He said there’s been a lack of events — and a lack of interest — in recent years.
Iqaluit’s main Inuit games event, Toonik Tyme, hit a rough spot several weeks ago. Its organizing committee resigned because of a lack of volunteers and passed the running of it over to the Town’s recreation department.
But Ell said Toonik Tyme’s recent problems have nothing to do with the birth of this new event. He said the group just wants to see more events throughout the year, rather than one, big annual event.
“We want to get back to traditional games where they are more open to everybody,” Ell said. “Our purpose is to use these games to bring the community together.”
There’s no shortage of games for people to participate in Katikvik Day organizers boast of having a list of 70 traditional games to play, including seal hopping, igunaujaq, snowshoe races, inuktitut baseball, one-foot high-kick, four-man carry, neck-ball race and a whipping game.
“We even have some more painful games where you go around and try to pull each others’ cheeks off,” Ell joked. The mouth pull and other painful games, such as ear-pull, shoulder-punch, and head-pull, are said to be a good test of a person’s endurance.
Katikvik Pinnguartulirijiit has already nabbed support for the games from the Town’s recreation department, which has agreed to help with organizing some of the events.
They’ve also turned to the community’s elders for help in compiling a list of traditional games and to re-learn some games they’d forgotten.
“The knowledge of how to play Inuit games is already there, we just have to get it from them,” Sytukie Joamie said.
Right now, there’s no budget set out for Katikvik Days events. Ell said they’re hoping local businesses and organizations will donate things that can be given out as prizes.
There’ll be a small admission so that many people can afford to take part. The group is asking people pay $1 to get into this week’s games, and the money will be donated to the Oqota homeless shelter.
Even without much money to get things started, Ell said they’re determined to make the games a success. “We have the will to put it together. That’s all we have right now.”
Other than the monthly Katikvik Days, the group is planning a fishing derby down the bay in March, a week of activities in mid-April, as well as special events for Aboriginal Day and Nunavut Day.
For now, the plan is to hold Kativak Days on the last Saturday of every month. They’ll run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of Nakasuk school, and will move to the Anglican parish hall at 7 p.m. for indoor games and dancing.