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Aar̂igaa

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Scottie Kasook led some of the dances when not drumming and teaches drumming and dancing. © IRC (3)

Happy Inuvialuit Day! 

It has now been 36 years since the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA). This modern‐day treaty gives Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) the mandate to work for social, economic, and cultural well‐being of all Inuvialuit. 

The IFA was achieved because of the dedication and wisdom of the Committee for Original People’s Entitlement (COPE) negotiators, some of whom we are grateful to still have with us. 

Inuvialuit Day takes place every year to commemorate the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement on June 5, 1984. Events are led by community corporations across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Celebrations in Inuvik usually showcase drum‐dancing performances with a feast for a crowd of 300 to 800. This year, packages of traditional foods were sent to communities for distribution to elders and other community members. 

Patrick, known as Dang Gruben, drumming, with his wife Ethel-Jean Gruben dancing beside. They both won a Wallace Goose Award for their contributions to Inuvialuit culture from the Inuvik Community Corporation at the 35th year celebrations.

Inuvialuit are encouraged to take the opportunity each Inuvialuit Day to recognize all the work and the effort their elders have put into preserving our culture, our language, and our identity. Inuvialuit should be pleased with what we have achieved through the IFA and can look forward to further implementation of our land claim with Canada. 

Wherever they may reside, Inuvialuit can be proud to celebrate and conduct cultural traditional activities on Inuvialuit Day for their own benefit. This spring, many planned to be on the land and to celebrate Inuvialuit Day at their camps. Inuvialuit marked the anniversary day of the IFA in family settings and in small groups for outside gatherings held at a distance. 

Traditionally this time of year, Inuvialuit might arrive back from their family camps by mid‐June with their muskrats, ducks, geese, and fish to then prepare for the beluga harvest. 541 families, meaning 1,986 individuals used IRC’s On the Land Support program for their health and physical distancing in spring 2020, which meant 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. This learning came along with additional opportunities to bond and build family skills together. 

Vanessa Rogers sang holding her new baby in a traditional strap during most of Inuvialuit Day and dances here with Alayna Wolki, at a distance, in her red atigluk with ulu pocket.

IRC also provided some activities and challenges during this time and appreciated the participation and strong submissions in these contests by beneficiaries. Children’s stories and artwork as well as photos on the land were sent as evidence of these positive experiences and healthy activities. Quyannaini, koana, quyanaqpak. 

Online performance videos of drum‐dancing were offered for Inuvialuit Day which enabled Inuvialuit from all over to come together and to share over 200 positive comments and greetings (8,000 views). While some of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region’s coastal communities still lack internet to allow for streaming live, IRC was glad to see the effort from Aklavik Drummers and Dancers who were both able and willing to put one of these live performances together for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation Facebook page this year. Aar̂igaa! 

IRC will continue the hard work to implement the IFA on behalf of all Inuvialuit and looks forward to welcoming guests to future Inuvialuit Day celebrations in our communities.