By Karli Zschögner
Special to Northern News Services
With a year missed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Inuvik Muskrat Jamboree kicked off its 65th anniversary raising over $109,000 between four fundraising ‘royalty couples’ in six weeks.
Originally having to share the jamboree weekend with Tuktoyaktuk’s Beluga Jamboree, the hamlet made the announcement last Tuesday night of the committee’s decision of the rescheduling for the following week.
Inuvik’s Adrian Kagyut and Davonna Kasook won as the winning fundraising couple with over $38,000 announced the evening of April 21 at the Midnight Sun Complex. Runner-up fundraisers were Maring Wade and Clarissa Esagok, Sarah MacNabb and Miranda Pingo, and Kara-Leigh Skiffington and Brandi Larocque.
New for this year, the jamboree committee chose to rename the dual fundraisers as ‘royalty contestants’ instead of ‘King and Queen’ to keep it more open, said jamboree chair Greta Sittichinli.
“There was not many people who signed up to participate,” she said. “A suggestion was made to allow friends to work together to fundraise.”
This was similar to Aklavik’s jamboree committee decision of announcing all-queen fundraisers, said Mina McLeod, chair of the organizing committee in Aklavik.
The cost to run Inuvik’s four-day festival was about $150,000. Sittichinli said.
Thoughout Friday’s opening ceremonies, Elder Gerry Kisoun was awarded the Sandra Ipana Legacy Award, received at the event by his daughter Claudine and granddaughter Winnie.
“This Award recognizes us recipients as good volunteers in our community, especially for our Muskrat Jamboree’s that we host each year,” said Kisoun over text message about the recognition of long-time jamboree volunteers. “You couldn’t get a better person to name it after. Sandra Ipana was (a) volunteer extraordinaire.”
“It is an honour and a privilege to receive this, especially from our own.”
With more than 25 arts and crafts vendors and seven food vendors, an Arctic market was held in the morning along with open tours of the Inuvik community greenhouse, Igloo Church, and Inuvik Tourism Bureau.
Six types of cross-country snowmobile races were held the afternoon to the evening of April 22, followed by dances and jigging contests. Firs- prize age category winners were Elders Roy and Julia Cockney of Tuktoyaktuk, Robin Greenland and Doris Rogers, and fundraising contestant winners Adrian Kagyut and Davonna Kasook.
Madelaine Proulx was visiting Inuvik for the first time visiting. Her friend, Laurence Carter, from Quebec City encouraged that this was the best time of the year to come.
“I’m having a blast,” she said watching the jigging contest. “We have some jigs in Quebec City and never really understood what it was, so the contest here is very interesting.”
This is also Karl Hogue’s first time in Inuvik visiting from Old Crow and from Montreal.
“I’m very happy to see Ski-Doo races, some of the best parts,” saying in Old Crow, there aren’t Ski-Doo races like during the Beaufort Delta jamborees.
Sittichinli said this year they used the Speedhive app to track the snowmobile races which people can view from their phones.
Following Sunday’s traditional games as harpoon throw and snowshoe races and kids snowmobile races, Aklavik’s Courtney Charlie added a fourth winning in the 75-mile women’s track race.
Aklavik’s Brayden John took home two prizes in Sunday evening’s singing and fiddling talent show: second in solo singer and first in duet with his sister, Shannon Furlong.
“That was our first time doing a duet,” said Furlong as they sang a gospel song ‘Great Speckled Bird”. “I always play music, I love listening to music, I love coming to events like this. We’re here to have fun and play for everyone.”
“To everyone else, you all did good too,” she added.
The brother and sister were one of two contestants in the duet category along with Tianna and Colton Gordon-Ruben. Budding artist winner was Savannah Walker, top singer was Clifton Francis, and top fiddler Michael Francis.
International champion Anny Malo and her partner, Marco Rivest, took again first and second as they did in Aklavik’s jamboree, in Monday’s Isaac Simon and Mary Firth Memorial Dog races with the champions receiving $4,000.
Prior to games including tea boiling and muskrat skinning, 42-year old Jimmy Kalinek won the $5,000 men’s 33-lap 100-mile track race, followed by Isaac Lennie and Aklavik youth Matthew McLeod in third.
“It feels great,” he said with a total time of one hour, 56 minutes; his best lap time was three minutes, 26 seconds. Having been racing for 24 years he said, he encourages other to keep at it.
“Work hard, don’t give up, and keep positive,” he said.