Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hamlet Days

You just have to have a sense of humour when your provincial holiday falls on April Fool's Day. Nunavut was officially formed on the first of April, 1999 and coincidentally, if there's one thing I've noticed about the people in Cape Dorset, it's that they love to laugh!
In celebration of "Hamlet Days" everyone gathered in a central spot and played some traditional Inuit games. It was very impromptu. I think everyone just looked out their windows and when they saw people heading towards the centre of town, they headed out too. Certainly that's what we did. I was all excited to see the "parade" that was supposed to happen, but in the end there was no real parade other then the informal one as more and more people arrived "downtown". When we got to the centre of town, there were quite a few people there and they were playing all sorts of games. There was a race where you had to go as fast as you could on your hands and knees (this was hilarious to watch as people tripped over their coats and fumbled through the newly fallen snow).
There was a harpoon toss, which I tried myself after much urging, and luckily no one was hurt! (I have a notoriously bad aim for throwing anything, but when I was throwing a sharp weapon I made sure everyone got well out of the way!). There was also a sort of individual "tug of war" where two people pulled on a rope until one fell over- this was lots of fun to watch, but I wasn't going to give it a try... they were all pretty strong.

There were lots of people out and everyone was having fun. It was quite cold again, with a bit of a wind chill, but no one seemed to mind. And they were definitely dressed for it! So far I have spent a lot of time with the children and a little time with the elders, but I hadn't really met many of the parents. It was great to see everyone out... the young and the old and the in-between.
The lady who won the hands-and-feet race was a young mother who did the whole thing in her amouti. Someone was holding her baby while she raced, but still... I can't imagine doing that whole race with an amouti on! I guess that's one way to keep warm. When she finished the race she just collapsed in a heap laughing.

After a great afternoon of games we had a wonderful celebration of our own. David and Frances invited the neighbour in and we had a great barbeque supper. I got out my harp and we all sang a few songs... we started thinking that we should have a Nova Scotia kitchen party right here next weekend. We're going to see if we can find someone with a really big kitchen who might be willing to host it. I think it would be nice to have a little taste of home here before I leave.

Hamlet Days was a lot of fun and reminded me just a tiny bit of the Highland games- the activities they had were tests of strength and endurance just like the caber toss and the shot put. Even though the Inuit live in a very modern world now, it seems like they still enjoy their traditions.

No comments:

Post a Comment