Southern power outage extends Aqpik Jam

Annual festival runs extra day waiting for Toronto headliners



Aqpik Jammers had to wait an extra day to satisfy their urge to hear such 80s classics as “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone,” “Someday” and “I’m Still Searching” after North America’s massive power outage delayed the arrival of festival headliner Glass Tiger.

The Toronto rock band was scheduled to close out Kuujjuaq’s annual music festival August 15. But the massive power outage that darkened homes, shut down businesses and delayed flights across eastern Ontario and the eastern United States last Thursday also kept Aqpik Jam’s southern headliners grounded in Toronto.

Sammy Koneak, who sat on the festival’s 2003 organizing committee, said as soon as organizers heard about the blackout, they knew the band, which was scheduled on an afternoon flight, might not arrive.

“The airlines called us and confirmed it. They said there might be a no-show because all the computers were down and there was no way of flying out of Toronto,” he said.

So they simply gave everyone one extra night of music, Koneak said.

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The rescheduled performance was a huge success with the 600-strong crowd that filled Kuujjuaq’s cultural centre.

“The highlight, meaning the best band, was no doubt Glass Tiger. They were the ones that everyone came to see – though people came to see everyone else as well,” Koneak said.

“There were so many people dancing and singing along. They played a few more songs than they usually would, because the crowd was so enthusiastic.”

In previous years, Aqpik Jam, which typically features performances by Inuit from Canada and other circumpolar countries, as well as southern acts, was held in Kuujjuaq’s arena.

But this year the event moved in to the new Kattitavik Town Hall’s auditorium.

Some festival-goers complained about the change of venue on opening night. Some said there were too many children running around the auditorium’s steps, and others worried there were too many people blocking the exits.

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Kujjuuaq Mayor Michael Gordon and Makivik president Pita Aatami spent a good part of their time between acts asking people to move into empty seats.

Koneak, however, said the first night’s congestion problem was largely fixed by the second night, when they pulled back the retractable seating near the stage.

Other performers at this year’s event included Charlie Adams, who opened for Glass Tiger, the Kuujjuaq Band, Cree folk musicians Whapmagoostui Eeyouch, and heavy-metal favourites Angava.

The festival was sponsored by many different organizations, including the Kuujjuamiut Society, the municipality of Kuujjuaq, Hydro-Québec, First Air, Makivik Corp. and a number of small businesses.

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