Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Feast

I was honoured to finally be able to attend a traditional "country food' feast. What an experience. I tried to take a few pictures, but I didn't want to be disrespectful, so I mostly got the "before and after" pictures. The meat was caribou and char and I guess they usually just bring the whole animal in and let people cut off what they would like, but this time it had been chopped into smaller pieces ahead of time, so people didn't have to use their knives to cut off portions.

The raw caribou is served frozen, so it really doesn't have much taste, but the fatty parts were not all that appealing to me. Tirak (the elder I met at sewing) said that she loved the fatty parts, though, so she made up for the fact that I didn't really want to try it.

We arrived at the community centre a little after six and found the "parking lot" packed with snowmobiles. If you'll notice in the picture, there was not a car or a truck to be seen... I'm not kidding when I say that I'm more surprised to see regular traffic on the road now- I've come to expect the roar of skidoos.

It was amazing to suddenly see so many people at once. I'm starting to realize that I will have a huge adjustment to make when I get back to Halifax... It was a shock for me to see so many people, but there were really only about two hundred or so. After spending the last two weeks here, it seemed to me like the whole world was there.

This is such a lovely community. There are so many children and they are so well loved by everyone. The children and babies just run around all over the place, tumbling in and out of people's laps. It really does feel like one big family in a lot of ways.

There were two feasts, really. There was the "country food" and there was a good old fashioned turkey dinner just like you might have at a community supper in Nova Scotia. There was a blessing of some sort that was given in Inuktitut, then everyone headed for the cardboard boxes in the middle of the room. After grabbing a bag full of traditional food (most people brought a grocery bag with them), they lined up to get a paper plate and some plastic cutlery and were served a very traditional turkey dinner. Most people were eating the raw caribou and char as they waited in line and some people just ate the "country food" without evem bothering to line up for the other feast.

Just like any other community supper I've been to in my life there was a not-so-awesome sound system set up and people made announcements and presentations leading up to a draw for door prizes. The kids and babies wandered around playing and making all sorts of noise and folks only half paid attention to the announcements.

I saw many beautiful hand made boots and parkas and a few gorgeous hand beaded hairpins and decorated amoutis. It was a really fun evening for me. Once again all the kids from school really made me feel welcome and introduced me to their parents and siblings. I feel so lucky that I have been able to become a part of their community so easily. I'd love to say that it's because I'm at the school and I have a role to play, but I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that everyone here seems so welcoming and accepting.

There are still a lot of things here that are very different for me. I'm not sure that I could ever really get used to the idea of "country food"- it seems so strange and far away from anything in my own experience. I understand that it is a delicacy and that the traditional feast has roots that run deep here. And I saw with my own eyes how much people enjoyed it and how much of a great community celebration it was. I have to say that tonight I really developed a new understanding and respect for this community and for the unique traditions that are such a huge part of their lives.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer - I so enjoyed reading about all your activities - what a wonderful
    experience! The children seem to be so happy - a real community. They
    will always remember you (and your harp and singing) and you will have
    such wonderful memories. The sunsets are gorgeous. Do finish the sewing and bring back a pattern. Take care, so pleased for you -
    Marilyn McLaren