The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) is preparing to celebrate Inuvialuit Day online and “at a distance” on Friday.
IRC chair Duane Smith told Cabin Radio the organization will share videos of drum-dancing performances on Facebook for communities to enjoy while pandemic restrictions are in place.
The IRC wants Inuvialuit to celebrate the day in “family settings,” it said in a statement last month.
Inuvialuit Day comes as families in the region continue to receive funding through the IRC’s on-the-land programming, which is trying to help residents spend time at hunting camps or at home during the pandemic.
According to the IRC, the program had assisted 541 families totalling 1,986 individuals as of late May.
Inuvialuit Day takes place every year to commemorate the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement on June 5, 1984. The document established the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the NWT.
“I’m hoping all of the Inuvialuit, wherever they are, will be celebrating and conducting some kind of cultural traditional activity for their own benefit,” Smith said.
“We just want to make sure people are proud and take the opportunity to especially recognize all the hard work and efforts their Elders have put into preserving our culture, our language, our identity.”
Celebrations each year normally feature drum-dancing performances and a feast in Inuvik for a crowd of 300 to 800 attendees, Smith said, plus celebrations in other communities.
Since larger feasts can’t be held this year, the IRC has sent packages of traditional foods to community corporations for distribution to Elders and other community members.
The IRC has also held contests for families and beneficiaries to send in videos and pictures of the activities they are doing while on the land, such as hunting, fishing, berry-picking, and – when the season begins – beluga harvesting.
Smith said it had been “really good to see [families] bonding and building their families’ skills” in photo submissions the IRC has so far received.
“It gives the opportunity for the younger children and young adults to learn more about the traditions, their culture, and how to sustain themselves out on the land at the same time with life skills,” he said.
The IRC urged communities to “continue to be proactive, wash your hands, and follow all physical distancing advice so we can get through this time and look forward to future Inuvialuit Day celebrations in our communities.”