Friends, the good weather brings out one and all to the goings on in the North.

One notable, Inuvik, hosted the 30th Anniversary of the Great Northern Arts Festival.

As the longest standing artist with the Festival I can well recall its humble beginnings, from 1989, when Moses himself first parted the Beaufort Sea.

Our smaller group first set up in the Inuvialuit Regional Centre’s upstairs, with our initial artistic efforts. We promptly retired to the comforts of the Eskimo Inn, when it was still a vibrant local magnet.

Whenever someone from our table sold a work of art they would be appointed to buy the rounds.

October Taylor, right, tossing soapstone dust for Antoine Mountain’s new painting background texture. Deiter Weise photo

From these humbler beginnings the Great Northern Arts Festival has continued to be well organized and now ensconced in the Midnight Sun Complex.

One new carver on board is Ricky Jaw of Iqaluit, who came bearing not one, but two, fanned Inuit dogteams, of soapstone. A set was immediately grabbed up by a collector from B.C.

Two crowd favourites were the Sahtu, Great Bear Lake’s Leela Gilday and Inuvik’s very own, Willie Thrasher, who rumbled his way through an on-site set and one for the community.

The Town of Inuvik, formerly East 3, is also celebrating its 60th Anniversary, with many coming to continue on to Tuktoyaktuk and the Arctic Coast, to dip-a-toe.

This time of year usually sees the whale hunters up that way, to harvest the beluga. An entire pod was even caught on video, far up the East 3 Channel.

One other event involved my Mountain Dene relatives of Tulita taking part in a 100-kilometre Nahanni River of Forgiveness trip, in a genuine moosehide boat.

The expert boat-builders included Ricky and Leon Andrew.

This marks the first time in a good century the Dehcho saw this traditional craft making the run.

The Youth involved spoke of the boat having far less drag than any other, and really ‘taking off’.

As one of the last group to take such a trip, out of the mountains west of Radilih Koe, Fort Good Hope, I recall the same sense of adventure and thrill-o-the-waters.

This all bodes well for award-winning environmentalists like Dehcho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian.

No doubt these will include more Northerners out on the land for the summer.

Mahsi, thank you.

Antoine Mountain

Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at

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