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Inuvialuit to celebrate 35th anniversary in Yellowknife

Members of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation at a celebration in Inuvik
Members of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation at a celebration in Inuvik. Photo: IRC

Yellowknifers are invited to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement at Somba K’e Park on Saturday.

Last-minute preparations were in high gear on Friday as Christine Sydney, executive assistant, and Tara Day, communications coordinator at the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) spoke with Cabin Radio ahead of Saturday’s celebration.

Drummers and the IRC president are heading to Yellowknife while food preparations are ongoing for a feast open to all.

“We brought some traditional foods – we got some geese, we brought some muktuk. We got some fresh char from Paulatuk and Ulukhaktok the week before we left,” Sydney said.



The char will become quaq bites. “We also have some ukpiks, cloudberries, and reindeer for soup. We have half-smoked fish … and we have some dryfish,” said Sydney.

Sydney and Day are being helped in the kitchen by family and friends. They estimate more than 400 beneficiaries of the final agreement live in Yellowknife.

Krista Carnogursky, left, Robin Carpenter, and Diane Thom prepare muktuk for the Yellowknife celebrations.

After the feast, drum dancing and northern games demonstrations will be held.



Friday’s rain ws not deterring Day and Sydney.

“Our app says that it’s going to be sunny. We’ll smile and make it sunny,” Sydney laughed.

In the 35th year since the Inuvialuit Final Agreement was signed, the IRC is for the first time holding celebrations outside the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

“It’s such a significant milestone for Inuvialuit and celebrating our land claim agreement, our culture. We do have high numbers of beneficiaries in the cities that we’re travelling to,” Day said.

An event has been held in Edmonton and another is planned for August 4 in Whitehorse.

“We just would like to share that with them and bring our celebration and our culture back to them, bring back their roots,” she said.

The travelling celebrations are the initiative of IRC chair Duane Smith, who heard southern beneficiaries express an interest in being included in the anniversary of the historic – the first comprehensive land claims agreement north of the 60th parallel and the second-ever signed in Canada.

Celebrations happened in Inuvik on June 5, as the original agreement was signed on June 5, 1984 in Tuktoyaktuk after 10 years of negotiations between the governments of Canada, the NWT and Yukon, and the Inuvialuit people.



The Edmonton gathering was a chance for Inuvialuit to meet others who they may not know are in town. Organizers hope the same happens on Saturday.

They will also be sharing information with any beneficiaries who might need to enroll or get information about what is available to them. “There’s so much out there: you can get support and talk to people. We’re there for each other 100 percent,” Sydney said.

Both Sydney and Day were young children when the agreement was signed.

“I hope we’re just as successful,” Day said of the next 35 years, “that the younger generation is keeping our culture and our language and our pride in our land, it’s still there and instilled in them. I hope we can be great teachers for them.”

The Yellowknife celebration takes place from 1pm till 5pm at Somba K’e Park. Organizers invite people to join the celebration – and “bring a chair!”