Monday, April 20, 2015

Attending My First Community Feast

This past Friday I attended my very first community feast in Cambridge Bay called the Discovery Feast.  It was put on by The Arctic Research Foundation and it was celebrating the discovery of the HMS Erebus, the continued search for the other missing ship and to inform the community of the project.   The evening was filled with traditional Inuit drum dancing, games, interesting speeches and the showing of the newly release video of the winter dive - yes a winter dive.  Kitikmeot Foods Ltd. provided 140lbs of muskox meat and 100lbs of Arctic char for the feast and Chef Andy and his students prepared a fantastic meal for the residents of CamBay, Jim Balsillie the president of the Arctic Research Foundation (co-founder of Blackberry), Rear-Admiral John Newton, plus many members of the military. 

It was fun evening spent with friends, both old and newly formed ones.  There were many door prizes, from Coleman stoves, sleeping bags and gift certificates but the one prize everyone had their hopes of winning was a day cruise on the research vessel, The Martin Bergmann.  One ticket was pulled and the number was read but no one claimed the prize so another ticket was pulled and IT WAS MINE!  So this summer myself and 5 of my friends will be heading out on the Bergmann to the Northwest Passage!  I can't tell you how excited I am and can't wait for the ice to melt. 
This is the vessel that we will be going on once the ice melts.

Here's a great source for information on the Franklin Expedition  and the research that Parks Canada and their partners are doing:

Mary Avalak lit the traditional kudlik to open the festivities last night, she was surrounded by children who looked on. The kudlik is an oil burning lamp which is usually made from carved soapstone, Traditionally it was filled with whale or seal blubber and Arctic cotton grass was used as a wick. The Inuit would use the kudlik for not only a light in their tents or igloos but also for heating, melting snow, cooking and drying their clothes. These days it is used mostly for ceremonies.

One of our Elders, Mary Kilaodluk gave an emotional drum dance performance with some community ladies singing behind her.

Closer look at Mary performing a drum dance

Rear-Admiral John Newton taking his turn at drum dancing.
He was such a great sport!

Trisha Angnasiak Ogina dressed in a gorgeous outfit, is one of the talented Cambridge Bay drum dancers who also performed at the Discovery Feast last night.

When it comes to dishing out dinner it was all hands on deck.
We have been cheering hard for the Winnipeg Jets and before their first playoff game we decided to head out on the ice to take some pics to show our support. Go Jets Go!
Craig, Molly & Blitz all decked out in their Jets gear

Miss Molly with her Winnipeg Jets doggie sweater

What a pair!
The weather has been beautiful here, sun is shining and this past weekend the wind was much calmer and Molly actually stayed out for a good hour before she started to get cold.  The sun is now rising at 4:30 in the morning and setting at 9:30 in the evening.  Even at midnight it is not completely dark in the west and a month from today we will begin our 24 hours of daylight. 
Operation Nunalivut will be wrapping up this week and I had the opportunity to hang out with Captain Bonnie Wilken a few times and met a few new friends. This past Sunday after our tundra romp we decided to contact Bonnie as she is a huge dog lover.  We had a great visit and she loved our dogs as you can see from the pictures.
Blitz instantly fell in love with Bonnie as she
knew where to give him a good scratch.

Nothing like a good ear rub for the old girl

I told Blitz to leave it while I took the picture
He did a fabulous job and his reward...the ball

Coming full speed ahead down the ice road

Tonight I leave you with something a little different;
A picture of me and my dogs.
Talk soon!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Full Force

We have been back in CamBay for 3 weeks and it has been crazy busy.  The first week back I had a request to photograph our senior girls basketball team.  I had photographed them last year for their team and individual photos but this shoot was special as they had won the territorial championship.  It was a fun shoot as I let them do whatever they want. Congrats again to the Wolverines for the win and here are some of my favorite shots of them.
Wolverines - Territorial Champs
Pure joy
Very content
Reach for your goal
Everyone was a Super Woman
The kiss of victory
Happiness is...
Blitz thought he would 'help' me steam the back drop

Had to take a pic of Molly

Then they got bored with me
The weather is slowly getting warmer and by warmer I mean -15'c today with a wind chill of -26'c.  Three weeks ago when we arrived back home the wind chills were still in the -50 range so we are getting a bit of a break.  The one thing that I really noticed was that our sun is showing it's face for much longer during the day with rising around 5:30am and setting by 9pm.  We have a little over a month left before we hit our 24 hour daylight.  There are some amazing sunsets this time of year also and here are a couple of pics.
There is a lot of action in our little village as members from all over Canada are here participating in the military's annual spring sovereignty exercise, Operation Nunalivut, which will run until April 22. 
I had the opportunity to connect with their public relations officer, Captain Bonnie Wilken last week and again this week.  Last week she showed me around their sleeping quarters, communications, and invited me to a good ole fashion haybox supper in the mess tent. 
Yesterday after work we met again and this time she arranged for a driver with a AVOP to get us across the airport apron to one of the hangers.  Members from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry from Edmonton, AB were there assembling their komatiks which they will use for their exercises.  After spending some time there we walked around the corner to find flight engineers and pilots from the 440 'Vampire' Transport Squadron from Yellowknife, NT putting one of the twin otters to bed - covering the wings. 
It's been a great experience meeting so many military personnel who also come by my work to purchase some char.  It's an experience that I will not forget thanks to Captain Bonnie Wilken.  Here are some highlight pics.
The C-17 sitting on the apron - it's a beast of a plane
The sleeping quarters
Inside the women's tent
So many ski-doos arriving
The mess tent at the DEW Line Site
Inside the tent after we ate supper
Members of PPCLI putting together their komatiks
Putting the wing covers on the twin otter's wings
This is the flag of the 440 "Vampire" Transport Squadron from YK - very cool
If you look on the wing of the twin otter above, you can see the vampire
Waiting to put on the wing cover.
Between all of this fun photography stuff I had to get ready for our annual financial audit at work.  It's not as bad as it could be and thanks to Balaji from our head office he makes it that much easier at my end.  We had the audit last week and now we wait for the statements from the auditor.  Glad it's over for another year and now we get ready to process some muskox!  We haven't had a commercial hunt this year and after much discussion on the subject it was in agreement that we would purchase a few direct from our hunters.  I can just taste those burgers!
We also found some time to head out on one of the ice roads.  There is usually an ice road from town to west arm which is a nice little drive but this year there is a much longer road.  I was told there is a barge that is stuck in the ice with some of the community's supplies on it so they made the road to retrieve the supplies.  It feels a bit weird out there when you can't see the town and you realize that you are driving on an ice road.  We took Kate and Gary out and of course took the dogs out a few times.
Gary, Kate and Craig on the narrow snow/ice road
Heading back to town on the blue ice
 We saw many chunks of blue ice but this one caught my eye as the sun was shining through it
This was the point where we decided to turn around
as the road was getting too narrow
On the way back we found some kids playing hockey on the ice
Love that they are skating on the bay
Looks like someone is building a cabin as this komatik is loaded with lumber
Freedom on the ice road
We have to make sure that Molly's ears are covered
when there is a high wind chill
Look at us sitting on the ice road!
It was too cold for Molly so she's in the truck as
Blitz and I played ball
Love that blue ice and my boy!
Blitz and I
Talk soon!