Sunday, April 17, 2011

Toonik Tyme

It could have been the fact that I spent the day frolicking in -35 degree temperatures yesterday that left me with this awful cold. The kind of cold that keeps you up at night because you cant breathe through your nose and your body aches so badly that you have no choice but to stay in bed, missing out on Toonik Tyme's Sunday festivities. Katie had to go in and do my baking today and I skipped out on work for the first time since arriving in Iqaluit. I missed out on seeing this mornings dog sled races and slept in until the early hours of the afternoon.
I'm not going to lie, I had so much fun yesterday that even if it was the cold that caused this sickness, it might have been worth it.

In true Melissa style, I wiped out early in the day

I spent the day with my friends Ellen, Sherri and Kayla. We slept in a bit, which was not planned but ended up being necessary after the wine consumption of the night before. We all met at Kayla's for brunch before heading out for the craft fair at the curling club. We only made it in time to see the last half hour but it is always nice to peruse through both the traditional artwork and the handmade accessories and articles of clothing.

The City is very busy during this celebration. We see visitors from all over Nunavut and the South. The girls and I walked around a bustling Iqaluit for awhile and ended up at the Visitors centre, thawing our toes and enjoying bannock (fried bread, shaped into a ring) before watching dog dash races out on the Bay. Dog dash racing is a race on a defined track where a single sled dog is attached to a skier by a rope. Both are harnessed and the dog runs in front, or is supposed to run in front, of the skier. It was amazing to see how fast they got around the huge track.

We had to take a pit stop back at the apartments to put on more clothing. With the wind, it was a painfully cold day so I wanted snow pants, some heavier boots and my favorite earmuffs.
We walked to the RCMP station to watch some ice sculpting. The men who participated in this competition sat on the cold ground and some worked with bare hands. The sight alone made me shiver. The sculptures were much more detailed than I could ever have accomplished with a chisel and ice. Truly an admirable skill.

The part of our day which had me the most excited was the iglu (yes, we've been spelling it wrong all along) building competition. Before I moved to Iqaluit I decided that there were only a few things that I really needed to do or see while I was here in order to feel like I made something of this experience. Of course the list grew exponentially but still, crawling into an iglu was on it from the get go.

 I am mildly claustrophobic and looking at the small entrance hole of the snow building put a lump in my throat but when the contest judge invited me in, I jumped at the chance. Doing things in Iqaluit that terrify me has paid off every time. I got on my stomach and dragged myself in through the hole. I surfaced in a surprisingly large feeling room.

I sat with the builder and the judge on the inside where we chatted for a short while. The builder, whose name I didn't quite catch, was native to Igloolik, a community North of Iqaluit. He told me that he had slept in an Iglu many times during his life while out on the land. I felt like I was sitting in a snow globe... I suppose that I literally was. I looked around at the snow that surrounded me. Fine filtered light seeped through between the cracks and in through the tiny ventilation hole that was carved out at the top point of the Iglu.

The structure blocked out all of the wind and was surprisingly comfortable. I could have sat in that spot all day long and revelled in the moment as long as it lasted. I crawled out into the open air with a smile on my face, high on the experience of Toonik Tyme.

Cutting up Seal with an Ulu

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