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Torchbearer Lukasi Tukkiapik, right, and Cindy Koneak are seen passing the Olympic flame to one another on a beach in Kuujjauq, Quebec. ((Jonathan Hayward/Associated Press/Canadian Press))

The 2010 Olympic flame is making its first foray into "La belle province."

Homes in the northern village of Kuujjuaq, Que., emptied of inhabitants as most residents came out to welcome the 2010 Olympic flame to its first stop in Quebec.

Four torchbearers carried the flame through fresh snow in the mostly Inuit community of about 2,000, located 1,500 kilometres north of Montreal.

The sun cut through an overcast sky as the first torchbearer took the flame for a ride on a dogsled before handing it off to the next runner, a woman who ran with it while clad in traditional Inuit fur boots.

The crowd cheered as the last runner lit the cauldron.

As it has in many of the small northern communities it has visited, the relay attracted most of the town.

In Kujjuaq, one of the final stops in Canada's North, community organizers handed out red Olympic mittens and red toques emblazoned with the town name to everyone who came out to celebrate.

Then, after almost a week of frigid northern temperatures that dipped as low as -40C, the torch for the Vancouver Winter Games was flown to a relatively balmy Gaspé, Que., where it was 8C on Tuesday.

There, torchbearers were serenaded by traditional accordion music and songs known in the region.

The torch was to make a stop in Sept-Îles, Que., on Tuesday night, before heading to Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday, where it will mark Remembrance Day at CFB Goose Bay in Labrador before arriving in St. John's on Friday.

The 106-day Olympic torch relay will span 45,000 kilometres and visit more than 1,000 communities.

 

 

The torch relay for the Vancouver-Whistler Winter Games left Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Tuesday morning, en route to Sept-Îles, Quebec, in the evening. In between, scheduled stops included one in the community of Kuujjuaq.

Keeping the flame lit was a challenge during the torch run's last full day in Nunavut. A deep freeze of –40 C, along with high winds, made it almost impossible to keep the torches lit during Monday's stop in Resolute Bay. Runners eventually carried the flame in the miner's lantern used to bring it to Canada from Olympia, Greece.

The iconic torches were pulled out later in the day, when the wind — and the bone-chilling cold — eased slightly, and hundreds of people turned out Monday night to greet the flame as it arrived in Iqaluit.

Tuesday's leg covers nearly 2,000 kilometres to Sept-Îles.

The torch will be carried into Newfoundland later in the week and will mark Remembrance Day with a stop at CFB Goose Bay, before arriving in St. John's on Friday.

In all, the 106-day Olympic torch relay will span 45,000 kilometres and visit more than 1,000 communities.