Sunday, March 16, 2008

Celebrating sledding and seals

[Lorraine writes] Saturday was a full, fun day for both of us.

The day started out with John heading out to the sea ice, to watch as the dog teams took off on the annual race from Iqaluit to Kimmirut and back (7 days, 320 km). We know some of the racers. By all accounts it was the usual madness, dogs tangled in harnesses, teams taking off with almost all the dogs pulling forward but one or two resolutely pulling backward because they just didn't want to go, dogs fighting vigorously, or deciding to curl up and go to sleep right as the race was supposed to start. But all the teams made it out of town, and we'll go back next weekend to watch them return. Here are blogs of two of the racers:

Meanwhile, I went off to a seal celebration. There were anti-seal hunting rallies in Europe yesterday, so we had a community celebration to celebrate hunting seals. Hunters went out in the morning, and brought back fresh seals, which were skinned and carved up and eaten at the celebration (mostly raw). There was a feast of caribou and char, as well. People came in their seal skin clothes - parkas, coats, boots, pants, mittens, hats, you name it. There were some gorgeous seal skin clothes there, and a great community buzz. It was a great time and a reminder of just how critical seal hunting is to the local diet, economy and culture here. Here are some of my photos:

Carving up one of the seals:

Local throat singers:

Qulliq burning seal oil:

Sealskin clothes:

All that is left after the feast (head of a char in the left box; hoof of a caribou on the right):

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