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Ottawa’s Inuit Community Celebrates the many successes and inspiring stories of Inuit in Canada


On March 19, 2016, Ottawa’s Inuit community held its annual spring equinox celebration. Organized by Tungasuvvingat Inuit, this year’s theme was Imagine, Inspire, Create and Celebrate. Inuit artists from all regions of Canada were invited to perform. A most successful evening to honour the many successes and inspiring stories of Inuit in Canada.

Here’s a photographic summary of the evening:


The evening’s MC, Beatrice Deer


Those who participated in Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s cultural centre programs were very proud to wear and show us their own creations.


9-year-old Timothy Erkloo’s drum performance


Fashion show of OKA (Original Killer Apparel) Fashions designed by Nunavik’s Tanya Innaarulik.


Nunavut Sivuniksavut students explained who/what inspired them to pursue their post-secondary education and why it is so important.


Nunavut Sivuniksavut students


Nunavut Sivuniksavut students


Nunavut Sivuniksavut students


Nunavut Sivuniksavut students


Nunavut Sivuniksavut students performing dances.


Janice Oolayou and Ben Jammin.


Joshua Stribbbell reading his poem.


14-year-old Taylor DeVos telling us about how she made a difference by raising over $15,000 to help young girls in Haïti get an education. Check out her website


Performance of the Inuit Drum group “Kilautiup Songuninga” (strength of the drums) from St. John’s, Newfoundland-and-Labrador: Angus Andersen, Stan Nochasak, Sophie Angnatok and Solomon Semigak.


Performance of the Inuit Drum group “Kilautiup Songuninga” (strength of the drums) from St. John’s, Newfoundland-and-Labrador.


Joy Sevigny explaining how she stopped smoking and developed her passion for running and marathons.


Throat singer Nikki Komaksiutiksak from Winnipeg.


Throat-singers Nikki Komaksiutiksak and Sophie Angnatok.


Boyce Campbell


Donna May Kimmaliardjuk, cardiac surgeon


Singer Kelly Fraser


Veronica Puskas who wan national awards for her quilts. She also explained how, after the death of her mother, she heard a voice telling her to take the pills that would stop her heart. She reminded us all to never listen to that voice if they hear it. It is a lie.


Stan Nochasak, whose family’s origin go back to Hebron, Nunatsiavut, tells us the story of the very first Inuksuk. (See below for the actual story)


Stan Nochasak performing the Inuksuk dance!


The last performance of the evening was by Twin Flames made up of singer-songwriters Chelsey June and Jaaji, Jonathan Edwards (lead guitar), Karolyne Lafortune (violin), Andy Dubois (drums), Mark Fraser (bass and cello), Riit Mike and Kristen Ungungai-Kownak (throat singers).


Chelsey June and Mark Turner.


Chelsey June, Mark Turner, Jaaji, Karolyne Lafortune


Jaaji and Karolyne Lafortune.


I would like to end this post with the story of the first Inuksuk as Stan Nochasak shared it. What you will read below was actually written by Stan over ten years ago and does not accurately reflect how he verbally tells the story nowadays. From what Stan recalls, the story first came to him from the work of two Memorial University students who collected Inuit stories for their masters degree. Upon reading it, he decided to memorize the story, just in case. Then by some odd providence, he lost the written story. Fortunately, he had fully memorized NiKaak’s quote as well as the general story. Stan then proceeded to write it down giving himself the liberty to be creative while ensuring to keep the original spirit of the story, and including other aspects of Inuit culture, of its traditional values.

NakutlaKutit (Thank you very much) Stan! It still most valuable for all of us to get a better understanding of the Inuit culture and spirit.

The Story of the First Inuksuk: A long time ago, a group of Inuit hunters were travelling, looking for seals. If seals were not plentiful in one area, the hunters had to go to another place, and in this case, it was a long way away. So, these hunters came upon another band of Inuit whom, like they, would share their hunting grounds with them. Among the arrivals was a young man named IKaluk. In the band of people was a beautiful woman named NiKaak, who IKaluk fell in love with. After awhile they wanted to get married. But her father said no. He was afraid his daughter would get in trouble in another clan; that she was going to be treated cruelly, After much pleading, confidence from IKaluk, assurances from friendly hunters, and his deliberations, he agreed to the marriage. On one condition: Ikaluk was to travel to his family, tell them what has been contracted and in effect return the following summer. It was much sorrow to NiKaak for them to part. Before his departure, they went on the highest hill so Ikaluk could point out where he was going, to show her where his family lives. But NiKaak could not see where it was. It was beyond the horizon. She broke into tears and could not be comforted. She said, thinking, “You will not return. I know something dreadful will happen. You are going on a long journey. Maybe a whale will overturn your kayak and you will be drowned in the sea. Maybe we will have a hard winter and our people will have starved to death. Maybe by next year, you will have forgotten about me and will have taken a wife from your own village.” Seeing that she could not be given comfort, he decided to pick up some rocks. He began to gather rocks and pile them up one on top of the other. Then she became curious. Her sense of curiosity had been aroused. She asked, “What are you doing? What is that?”, her tears gone. “That,” he replied, “is an inuksuk. That is my inuksuk. It is not an Inuk because it is not made of flesh and blood, and it cannot speak but inside this cairn of rocks I have captured my spirit and I am leaving it here with you until I return. Guard it with care, see that no one dismantles it, for then my spirit would drift with the wind and I would die. Please come here every day and talk to me. In spirit we can never be apart.” She was comforted, grew with happiness. She knew he must return to claim his spirit buried in the cairn of rocks. Throughout the seasons, she visited the inuksuk, and talked to it. She was not lonely, as she had purported to herself. The villagers were often curious about why she took so many lonely walks. All her time, she did not tell them her reason. Because they might think she was crazy and unreasonable. One day under the noonday sun a point in the horizon took her curiosity. She wondered. She saw then it was a band of people. Recognized it was IKaluk and his family. She became really elated, exulted on the way down. That night they produced a joyous occasion. Nikaak and IKaluk decided to tell them of their story of the inuksuk. They were a bit reluctant at first to tell them. They might think they were crazy, unreasonable. When they heard this, they looked at one another and said we should tell our children and their children’s children and so on that every time we see an inuksuk we should respect it because it reminds us of our spirits.

Thank you for reading!
France Rivet

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