Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 07, 2014 - 11:45 am

Summer games in western Nunavut draw competitors of all ages

65-year-old Mary Algona gets carried 101 feet in airplane contest

KELCEY WRIGHT
Thomas Kaolaine, 21, competes in the Alaskan high kick at the 2014 Kitikmeot Summer Games held over the August long weekend in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY KELCEY WRIGHT)
Thomas Kaolaine, 21, competes in the Alaskan high kick at the 2014 Kitikmeot Summer Games held over the August long weekend in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY KELCEY WRIGHT)
Clothing designer and model Lena Kamoayok turned 75 the day she walked down the runway in the Kitikmeot Heritage Society sponsored fur fashion show, held in conjunction with the Kitikmeot Summer Games. The crowds sang “Happy Birthday” to her. (PHOTO BY KELCEY WRIGHT)
Clothing designer and model Lena Kamoayok turned 75 the day she walked down the runway in the Kitikmeot Heritage Society sponsored fur fashion show, held in conjunction with the Kitikmeot Summer Games. The crowds sang “Happy Birthday” to her. (PHOTO BY KELCEY WRIGHT)
Handy with a knife: Cynthia Nivingalok won the fish filleting competition with a time of 40.9 seconds. (PHOTO BY KELCEY WRIGHT)
Handy with a knife: Cynthia Nivingalok won the fish filleting competition with a time of 40.9 seconds. (PHOTO BY KELCEY WRIGHT)

Throat-singing, one-foot-high-kicking, knuckle-jumping, fish-filleting and goose plucking.

Think of it as the Kitikmeot Olympics.

“It went awesome,” said Fred Muise, organizer of this year’s Kitikmeot Summer Games which unfolded in Cambridge Bay over the August long weekend. “We had a great turnout, lots of participants and most importantly, lots of fun.”

About 200 people attended the opening ceremonies held on Aug. 1 at Kiilinik High School and featuring drum dancing and throat-singing performances.

The first athletic event, the one-foot-high-kick, launched the competition with male athletes kicking over seven feet and female athletes kicking over six feet – drawing a loud roar from the crowd.

Day two brought nearly 100 people of all ages to the baseball field to watch the fish-filleting, bannock-making and tea-boiling events.

Cynthia Nivingalok — who, at 32, was the youngest competitor in fish-filleting — was lightning fast with a time of 40.9 seconds.

The bannock-making competition was also swift. The winner, Salomie Qitsualik, took only four minutes to build her fire, mix the dough and fry it up.

“The bannock was very good,” said first-time judge, Arif Zaman. “All the women are winners, really.”

While the sweet smell of frying bread wafted about the field, athletes were competing in the marathon — a four-kilometre run to Water Lake and back — as well as stick jump, toe jump and bench reach.

During those events, many athletes learned techniques for the first time, either from peers or elders.

“It’s really good to see the younger men take over and help,” said Elik Tologanak, one of the event’s organizers. “It’s all part of learning.”

Elder Ernie Bernhardt, who says he’s keen to pass on traditional skills to the next generation, taught proper technique for both Alaskan high-kick and side-reach to participants later that evening.

“The younger people have to take [the games] on themselves soon,” he said. “I always tell our youth, you’re the future of these games.”

And while a dozen or so elders participated in the tournament this year, well over 20 youth also competed.

“When I look at the Kitikmeot Summer Games, I see the youth outnumber the adults and it makes me happy,” said Bernhardt.

The event that best exemplified the spirit of both youth and elders was the Kitikmeot Heritage Society’s traditional fashion show which took place Aug. 3.

“We all had a lot of fun,” said Laura Dun, fashion show organizer and communications co-ordinator for the games.

About 400 people filled the community hall to catch a glimpse of what local designers had to offer including a seal skin leather parka modelled and designed by Ann Rose Kerkovius and a seal skin and wolverine drum dancing outfit.

Clothing designer and model Lena Kamoayok was the guest of honour, striding down the runway on her 75th birthday as the audience sang “Happy Birthday.”

The next morning, about 70 people gathered for the seal-skinning competition as Jacob Atkichok wowed the crowd by skinning his animal in about three minutes.
Just a few meters away, inside the high school gym, another elder was busy impressing the audience.

Sixty-five-year-old Mary Algona from Kugluktuk was carried 101 feet and five inches in the airplane competition, beating the senior female winner by about 50 feet.

Leo Ameralik equally wowed the crowd the next morning when he attempted a two-foot-high-kick at seven feet and two inches. The crowd clapped in anticipation, encouraging him as he kicked it on his fourth try. The entire gym erupted in cheers.

The closing ceremonies, which began shortly afterward, featured a traditional drum dance and a closing prayer.

Ameralik, who came first place overall in the senior men’s division, offered some parting advice for young athletes in Nunavut. “Stay healthy and help keep these traditions alive.”

AND THE WINNERS ARE:

BACKBEND
Senior Men: Thomas Kaolaine

ONE FOOT HIGHKICK:
Junior Men: Marty Anaittuq
Senior Men: Leo Ameralik
Junior Women: Sabina Nartok

TOE JUMP:
Junior Men: Daniel Nirlungayuk
Senior Women: Sheila Tinashlu

STICK JUMP:
Senior Men: Charlie Qauqjuaq
Junior Women: Sabina Nartok

BENCH REACH:
Junior Men: Daniel Nirlungayuk
Senior Men: Richard Angotialuk
Junior Women: Sabina Nartok
Senior Women: Brenda Hiqiniq

MARATHON:
Senior Men: Puglik Tuktimak
Junior Men: Marty Anaittuq
Junior Women: Sabina Nartok

ALASKAN HIGH KICK:
Junior Men: Marty Anaittuq
Senior Men: Leo Ameralik
Junior Women: Sabina Nartok
Senior Women: Brenda Hiqiniq

AIRPLANE:
Junior Men: Johnny Arqviq
Senior Men: Leo Ameralik
Junior Women: Sabina Nartok
Senior Women: Brenda Hiqiniq

ONE HAND REACH:
Junior Men: Marty Anaittuq
Senior Men: Leo Ameralik

KNUCKLE HOP:
Senior Men: Nathan Nartok
Junior Men: Johnny Arqviq

ARM PULL:
Senior Men: Leo Ameralik
Junior Men: Daniel Nirlungayuk
Senior Women: Sheila Tinashlu

SWING KICK:
Junior Men: Daniel Nirlungayuk
Senior Men: Palla Ameralik

KNEEL JUMP:
Senior Men: Leo Ameralik
Junior Men: Marty Anaittuq
Senior Women: Sheila Tinashlu
Junior Women: Sabina Nartok

FOUR MAN CARRY:
Senior Men: Nathan Nartok

TWO FOOT HIGH KICK:
Senior Men: Leo Ameralik
Junior Men: Marty Anaittuq
Senior Women: Sheila Tinashlu
Junior Women: Sabina Nartok

TEA BOILING:
Susie Konnana (2:55 minutes)

BANNOCK MAKING:
Fastest and Tastiest: Salomie Qitsualik (4 minutes)

FISH FILLETING:
Cynthia Nivingalok, 32, Gjoa Haven (40.9 seconds)

SEAL SKINNING:
Jacob Atkichok

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