New Year's Eve on Top of the World

Trip Start Aug 01, 2010
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Trip End Feb 16, 2012


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Flag of Canada  , Nunavut,
Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our New Year's Eve was certainly unique this year! Compared to last year- along the beach in Sosoua, Dominican Republic with the champagne flowing (http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/lolly/18/1263598941/tpod.html) - it was a near polar opposite! We were still along the ocean but it was frozen solid and this is a dry community so there was no champagne.  
Before midnight we went to the neighbour's house, to gather and talk about what we did in 2010 and any resolutions for 2011. Our hostess had great music and some particularly powerful and appropriate lyrics played were "in this great future, you can't forget your past", and I thought about the Inuit people and how they seem to be caught between two worlds, perhaps the worlds of past and future.  We had the countdown from Edmonton on in the background and we rang in 2011 together!  Then, as it is a Gjoa Haven tradition, we got into our trucks and joined the procession of vehicles parading around town. Everyone that was not in their trucks was at their windows- we were all waving, honking, and yelling Happy New Year!! It was a lot of fun!  It was hard to capture the event with a camera but let me tell you there were TONS of vehicles, lights, and noise up on the corner of King William Island on that arctic night.  Behind the big trucks, about fifty snowmobiles followed. Later in the night, they continued out onto the Arctic Ocean, riding around in circles and very long chains to celebrate the new year.
The next day was relaxing, we took a little drive around, but the town was quiet. We tried to get out of town to the nearby Swan Lakes but the snow had drifted across the road and it was impassable. Looks like there's nowhere to go - but that's okay.

Around 7pm we went to check out the New Year's Day Feast at the same place where they've been having games all these past days.  We brought some baked Char and put it on the long tables in the centre of the room.  On the table was a lot of recognizable foods like turkey and macaroni salad.  I was expecting something more shocking as I had heard about a summer feast that had a big pile of intestines right in the middle of the table.  Not this time, but there was a plastic grocery bag with little pink and grey bits in it (someone said that was whale).  Beside the table were big boxes full of frozen fish and caribou, an axe lay beside the box so that you could hack off a piece of meat.  It was not time to eat yet though, the table was still being arranged.  Someone extended their hand to wish us Happy New Year and then their neighbour put out their hand to shake and then their neighbour did the same and before we knew it we were caught up in a hand shaking marathon!  We probably shook two hundred hands, young and old.  It took a long time and I was overwhelmed by the friendliness and togetherness in this community (my eyes might have teared up but I blame the cold).  

When it came just about time to feast, heads bowed in Inuktitut prayer and a song.  Then the dessert judging contest was established, my husband (lucky fellow) was selected to be the head judge and he set to work in tasting twenty sweets and in deciding which one was the best!!  When the three top winners were chosen, someone gave the word and the feast began.  It could be described as a feeding frenzie! People went running up to the table with empty ice cream and margarine containers, they filled them and ran back to their families like participants in some delicious relay race.  I tried to break into the chaos to try a bit of whale or seal but couldn't elbow my way in.  Later on my husband brought me back some 'country food' to try, it was the neck and rib cage of a small goose, pulled from a big brown pot of liquid with the heart and possibly lungs still inside the chest cavity. We had been told to bring out own plates and cutlery, which we did, but most people used a piece of cardboard and their hands.  I didn't want to stare but it was all so different, I couldn't help trying to take it in out of the corner of my eye.  As we were leaving, more games were starting up again and I'm sure community celebrations continued long into the first night of the new year.
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