Category Archives: Gwich’in

Nice moment: Peter Clarkson helps elder Mary Kendi in drum dance

After the recent Queens’ Diamond Jubilee Medals in Aklavik, the drummers and dancers performed.

Inuvik’s Peter Clarkson (a former mayor and today working with the GNWT) helped elder Mary Kendi participate by wheeling her around among the dancers.

Kendi, 97, was moving her arms in a drum dance motion, and you could see she was delighted. It was a really nice moment.


Aklavik’s drummers and dancers: Passing along the traditions





Aklavik’s drummers and dancers practice in the community, and their presence means there is an event of significance happening.

It’s very nice to see the younger people (see for example the young girls here, bottom right) looking at older members and learning the moves.

Songs of the drummers follow irregular rhythms, such as…

BEAT-BEAT-BEAT-BEAT (pause) BEAT-BEAT (pause, pause) BEAT (pause) BEAT BEAT (pause) BEAT.


Community notices in Aklavik

You can learn a lot from community notices posted in small communities.

Here we see efforts to preserve caribou, asking people to abide by the voluntary hunting restrictions and requesting they shoot males only. There are notices to remind people that wasting meat is illegal in the NWT, and asking them to “let the leaders pass,” meaning not to create chaos by shooting the dominant males.

There’s also a project which is tracking salmon — that’s right, salmon have been spotted in the Mackenzie River, far from their usual habitat. Some see this unusual distribution as a sign of climate change.

We also see voluntary agreements for quotas of Arctic Char, another species which threatens to be in serious decline if overfished.

RCMP officer joins the Inuvialuit Drum Dance in Aklavik

Here’s officer Mike Peters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who is stationed in Aklavik. During a celebration and Inuvialuit Drum Dance, he revealed he’s been spending some time with the dancers.

Officer Peters performed a short dance to uproars of laughter and applause. He knew the moves!

The Drummers and Dancers’ routines tell stories. For instance one dance is about seagulls pestering seals on a beach. Another goes through the motions of gathering, chopping, and stacking firewood.

Visit to Aklavik, part 2: Elder Mary Kendi

Recently in Aklavik community members received Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals, which recognize longtime volunteers and role-models.

Among the recipients was elder Mary Kendi, 97, who is beloved in the community of Aklavik and throughout the north.

She was given flowers (flown in by plane of course) and applauded with the three other recipients: (from left) Barbara Archie, Nellie Cournoyea who is chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and Jerry “Dean” McLeod.

“Be as happy as possible at all times”

Seen in Aklavik’s Gwich’in band office: The Dene Laws.

A lot of wisdom here!

Inuvik’s new super-school: Opening day

Inuvik’s new school is open. The building cost $110 million and is a major project for the NWT. It represents the bright hope of a future with higher attendance, better grades and more graduates.

The building itself is modern architecture showpiece. It features glass walls and angles designed to let in sunlight during the winter.