The day broke clear and breezy as we packed up our traveling camp for the last time. Simon mounted the bright Nunavut flag onto the back of his komatiq and tucked Sam’s guitar safely into his wooden grub box. Lukie and Will led the caravan across the remaining 10 miles of ice and tundra with Simon at his heels, Stetson and his family following behind and Elizabeth and I taking up the rear. It was a cold morning with a biting wind, but the sun was warm on our backs and home a stone’s throw away.
We had heard that the community would be waiting for us when we arrived but were amazed to see the size of the crowd down on the ice. It looked as if the entire town of 1,600 people had come out to see us. A roar went up as Lukie and Simon grew close and they were soon swallowed completely by the mass of people. We pulled up just shy of the crowd and were immediately swarmed by an eager group of kids. It was a festive scene with two giant snow sculptures, two big fire trucks with their lights flashing and friends and family reuniting again.
The welcome party was only the start of the festivities. The Iglulik Expedition Celebration Committee has been hard at work preparing for our arrival. Activities include a traditional arts and crafts sale, a hookie dance (square dance), as well as a teen hip hop dance, talent night and community feast. The much-anticipated highlight of today’s events was an unplugged performance by singer-songwriter Jewel (watch the video<
/a> 2.09 Mb) in the town gymnasium.
Jewel, born and raised in Homer, Alaska, grew up performing in tiny northern communities around the state. She seemed right at home in front of the crowd of 1,000 people and hosted a fabulous yodeling contest at the very end of her show. She also invited Sam Branson and Simon Qamanirq (watch the video 3.44 Mb) up on stage to perform. The crowd roared as they both took their turn in the limelight.It is a thrill to be here, at the end of this long expedition, among so many warm and welcoming people. Iglulik is known as the cultural center of Nunavut and a fitting place to end the trip. While Lukie, Simon and Theo have made it home to their families, the Minnesotan contingent have a bit more distance to travel. We begin our departures on Monday and Tuesday, with John Stetson staying through the 18th of May to travel home with the dogs.
d for more stories from Iglulik. We will keep you posted until the very end!