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Drums, dancing and drag races

Trisha Ogina gives a quick pose for the camera prior to her drum dance at a Kugluktuk spring festival April 18. David Ho/NNSL

'This community loves to dance', committee member says of 40th Nattiq Frolics

Kugluktuk, NT - The youngest Kugluktuk drummers used their craft to drum in their elder drummers at the opening ceremony for the 40th anniversary of the hamlet's annual spring festival, Nattiq Frolics, on April 18. The event was to end April 23.

"It was really powerful to see the little kids with their drums bring in our older generation to do their performance, and then the kids performed right there with their elders," said Frolics committee member Wynter Kuliktana.

The evening was also used as an opportunity to recognize elders past for their efforts to preserve the practice of Copper Inuit drum dancing.

"It was really emotional for families," she said.

Festivities were planned to be a bit bigger this year for the four-decade marker. Of course, plans included lots of dancing.

"Kugluktuk is all about the fiddle," said Kuliktana. "This community loves to dance."

The opening ceremony also saw the crowning of the Frolics King and Queen.

To win the crown, five couples campaigned for two weeks prior to Frolics, raising funds to support the festival.

This year campaigners raised an impressive $28,743.

"They gave it their all," she said. "The amount was so jaw-dropping that the committee said 'we have got to give back.'"

The funds were used to make events even more exciting by providing for cash prizes, food hampers and door prizes, such as camping supplies for the upcoming hunting season.

The crown went to David and Genevie Nivingalok, who raised $10,415 in two weeks.

Runners-up Nuka Bolt and Nigel Allukpik raised $7,916.

To raise the funds, couples hosted an all-nighter, craft sale, poker rallies, lunches, dinners and a teen dance.

There was a spirit of competition among campaigners, but also of support.

"Even though we were in a competition, we were all helping each other out because it's all for the community," said Bolt.

Traditional ice games were also planned, with a 'set up camp' race on Saturday. Couples were to bring their loaded camping sleds to set up their tents, tarps and stoves, and then make bannock and tea. The first team to finish setting up camp and shout "teaturitti", or "come for tea", was to win a trip for two to Edmonton.

Businesses in the hamlet participated in the annual coffee time corporate challenge, breaking at 3 p.m. each day to join in short challenges.

"It's for fun and laughing and getting them out of the office," said Kuliktana. "Because this happens annually, each year everyone comes back just a bit more competitively to try to win."

Snowmobile drag races and relays for adults and youth happened throughout the week organized by the Kugluktuk Racing Association.

"This is the first time we are having ice drags and ice ovals in over a decade," said Calvin Pedersen of the racing association, who worked as the MC and with the pit crew for the races.

He said the race styles were a large draw for the community and also for drivers from surrounding communities.

"One lap (of the oval track) is about a half of a kilometre and it's shaven right down to the ice just like you see in races down south," he said.

The weekend saw a king of the hill race, which is always a crowd pleaser, Pedersen said. "It takes a little more skill to win this one. The winner takes all entry fees."

The week included a traditional dress fashion show, school workshops by the Iglulik-based Arctic circus group Artcirq, and a set of concerts by the indigenous musical duo Twin Flames.

Dallas Harvey and Alycia Pedersen gets the audience clapping with a square dance routine at the opening ceremony for Kugluktuk's Nattiq Frolics, David Ho/NNSL photo
Kennedy Niptanatiak kickstarts the 40th Nattiq Frolics with her drumming in Kugluktuk. David Ho/NNSL photo