The dance was a "skinning dance" designed to celebrate post-hunting activity. It was simple to do - mostly upper body, hand and arm movements. One of the Inuvialuit elders even gave me her rabbit fur mittens to wear while I danced, to make the experience more authentic. We performed it once to learn the moves, then we did the dance again for real.
For me, it was the highlight of the Aboriginal Day celebrations. But it wasn't my only dance performance of the day ...
When he yelled out, "The first person to come onstage and walk like an Egyptian wins the next prize," nobody ran. He repeated the call ... still nobody rose to the challenge. Being a diehard fan of The Bangles, I knew this was something I'd be good at, so I ran to centre stage and did my best Egyptian impersonation. Twice. For good measure, I also threw in a side-to-side head move I'd learned in Bollywood class. The emcee was speechless; all he could do was laugh and hand me my prize - a nice black satchel courtesy of Inuvik Gas Ltd.
Earlier in the day, I'd also won a ballcap bearing the Inuvialuit logo for being one of the first five people-wearing-red to run onstage. And a woman had walked around handing out flyswatters - with the Inuvialuit logo - to anyone who wanted one. I think pretty much everybody who attended the festivities that day (June 21) came home with at least one prize.
This is my second time at National Aboriginal Day in Inuvik, and it seems to me that, as much as the occasion is about dancing and games, it's even more about gathering the community together, spending time with family, friends and neighbours. All the activities, and the down time in between, are punctuated with much hugging, laughing, chatting and connecting. And it doesn't matter if you're a local or a visitor from far, far away. Everyone is welcome to join in.
|Labrador Tea on the fire|