Monday, March 28, 2011

Inuvik try No. 2

On Friday Ian and I are hopping on a plane to Inuvik for our second attempt to visit our friend Kira.
When we last tried to visit, our plane was turned around because of a lack of visibility and a widespread power outage in the Beaufort Delta.
This weekend the weather looks like it's going to hold up for us, so we have our fingers crossed that we'll actually land in the village of about 3,500.
I'm especially excited about the trip because it's the Muskrat Jamboree this weekend.
The jamboree is a three day event that is held every year to celebrate the coming of spring.
There will be drum dances, muskrat skinning and a bunch of other traditional activities.
When I was thinking about coming to the North, these were the types of events that I was hoping to experience. I really wanted the chance to immerse myself in traditional Northern culture. I wanted to get to know the people. I wanted to hear their stories and learn from their experiences.
Sadly, living in Yellowknife, rather than in one of the smaller Northern communities in the territory, I don't get to partake in many traditional events or activities.
I've discovered that Yellowknife really isn't a good representation of the North. It's actually more like a city from Northern Alberta.
My first experience in a Northern community was actually a week ago.
I went to Behcheko, a village of about 2,000 people, for the Canadian Men's Hand Games Competition. Hand games are based on hiding objects and guessing where they are using elaborate hand signals and gestures.
While I was in the village, I had the rare experience of being a minority. I was one of maybe a dozen Caucasian people in the building, surrounded by hundreds of aboriginal people who had traveled from around the territory to be at the event. It was really refreshing, although at first I did feel a bit like I was trespassing -- walking into a world that didn't belong to me.
That feeling was quickly squashed though when a few men from the Dettah hand game team took it upon themselves to explain the rules of the game to my friends and me. They were exceptionally patient and understanding that the games were foreign to us and were open to answering any questions that popped into our heads.
It was a fantastic experience. I was enthralled by the beating of the drums and the enthusiastic hand gestures from elders, adults and teenage males on the hand game teams.
I was also really appreciative of the hospitality of the people.
I hope that I will have a similar experience at the Muskrat Jamboree this weekend. I'll be sure to take a bunch of pictures to share.

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