Monday, May 29, 2017

The Fishing Derby Awards of 2017

The Fishing Derby Awards of 2017 were held at the local community hall on Tuesday, May 23rd.  I arrived at 7pm, just in time to see the ceremony begin.  Large grey tables were set up in a rectangle in the centre of the room, and were filled with various finger foods.  There were fruits, vegetables, crackers, assorted meats, cheese, and bowls of country food.  The large pieces, caribou, seal, & arctic char, were in large black Rubbermaid boxes on stage.  Those would be handed out after the ceremony during the feast.  The audience sat on chairs & benches along the walls of the hall.  Unfortunately, none of the fish that were caught & entered into the competition were on display.  The fish were measured when they were caught.
The ceremony began with a Welcome Message from the organizers and a prayer said by an elder.  The emcees spoke in Inuktitut & English.  There were many categories and prizes to give out.  The prizes ranged from cash to iPods.  The smallest cash prize was $50 and the highest was $7500.  The high cash prizes were reserved for the adult competitors.  I think the highest cash prize for youth was $400.  One by one, the 3rd place, 2nd place, and 1st place winners in each category were called up to the stage to receive their prizes. 
Handing out prizes.
The competition organizers saved the best prize for last.  Everyone was talking about it for the last month.  Some believed that the best prize was just a rumour, but that rumour was put to rest when the new skidoo arrived on a plane.  That’s right.  This year, first prize for the longest fish caught in Ikpikituarjuk Lake was a brand new skidoo.  The snow machine was parked outside the community hall for everyone to see.  (Ikpikituarjuk Lake is 105km south of Arctic Bay).  Suspense descended over the audience when it was revealed that there was a tie for first place.  Two people caught arctic char measuring 38 inches.  Since no one wanted to cut the skidoo in half, the organizers asked one of the newly posted RCMP officers to draw a name from a hat.  There was a second of complete silence just before the emcee announced the winner.  Everyone was on their feet when Hannah Akikulu’s name was heard.  She is the same lady who made my sealskin parka, vest, and mitts.  She must have felt like she won the lottery.  Daniel Aola was the other competitor who was in the draw.  He was awarded $7500.

Dinner of Champions.
The ceremony moved on to the feast.  People swarmed around the grey tables while others lined up to get caribou & arctic char from the stage.  The activity around the tables was akin to “organized chaos”, but thankfully, no fights broke out.  The lines to the front stage were more orderly.  I was able to get a piece of char and a large piece of caribou.  I sat at the back and ate the entire piece of char using my ulu.  I ate a few raw pieces of caribou before placing the rest in a plastic bag.  I left with a full stomach.   

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