Communities across the Beaufort Delta are invited to participate in the first-ever annual Billy Moore Memorial Elvis Impersonation Contest to honour the man himself, Inuvik’s own Elvis.
Moore, who is Gwich’in, lived in Inuvik for most of his life alongside his family. He was well-loved by all those who knew him.
On the last weekend of November, Moore – who had Down syndrome – passed away at the age of 69.
“Billy was pretty much anywhere where there were people,” says Rick Campbell.
Campbell worked with Moore in public works for many years. He recalls Moore’s dedication to his work and the enjoyment he derived from helping community members.
“He would sweep the sidewalks and the parking areas downtown in the summertime, try to keep them clean,” Campbell said, “and then in the wintertime, he would have a snow shovel and ice scraper and he would be scraping sidewalks downtown.
“Billy loved to go to work and he loved to say hi to people. I think it was a way for him to socialize.”
Howie Macleod, another Inuvik resident, echoes Campbell’s sentiment. He was friends with Moore for many years and remembers him as upbeat and sociable.
“He was a determined person and he was a happy person,” he says. “He enjoyed life. He took pride in everything he did. He liked people and he liked being around people. That’s what made him special.”
Macleod, who is a musician, has so many stories of seeing Moore at gigs around town. The two bonded over their shared love of music.
Macleod says Moore always wanted to get on stage and play alongside the band.
“He wanted to be part of what was going on, and we appreciated it,” Macleod says. “We always let him get on our stages whenever he was around.”
Jackie Challis, the town’s economic development officer and a volunteer member of the Inuvik Events Society, saw Moore as the heart and soul of public functions.
“At every community event – every old-time dance, every holiday celebration, anything – Billy was always there, front-and-centre and dancing,” she said.
More often than not, said Challis, he would come clad in a white Elvis suit and wig, an homage to his favourite musician.
“A lot of people in the community, when they think of Elvis or dancing, they think of Billy Moore,” said Challis.
To honour Moore’s legacy and his love of Elvis, Challis and the Inuvik Events Society are throwing the first annual Billy Moore Memorial Elvis Impersonation Contest.
Alongside memorializing Moore, the contest gives the community a chance to celebrate the holiday season in socially distanced style.
“It’s really about getting people to remember Billy, to have fun over New Year’s with your family and friends, and for all of us to be able to share in that when normally we would do that in person,” Challis said.
The competition opens at 8am on December 31 on Facebook, with judging taking place on January 3 and winners announced on January 4.
There will be three age categories: 15 and under, 16 to 49, and 50 or over. Residents of all eight Beaufort Delta communities are welcome to enter, with cash prizes for those in the top three of each category.
Participants are encouraged to channel the King through their lip-syncing, air guitar skills, and classic Elvis hip gyrations.
The window for entries to the online contest closes at 11am on January 2.
As the Beaufort Delta gets ready to commemorate Moore, Campbell reflects on the lessons he left behind.
“It didn’t matter to him about his disability or other people’s disabilities – Billy took everybody for who they are,” Campbell says. “He was happy all the time.
“If he left anything, I think he proved people can be happiest with the least.”