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A night to remember in Gjoa Haven

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By Peter Mansbridge

The good people of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut put on quite the show for us Friday night, one we'll never forget.  Most of the town was there at the request of the mayor, Allan Aglukkaq, as he wanted our little CBC crew to get a sense of what culture and tradition for them is all about. And did they ever deliver!
 
For almost three hours, we watched drum dances, throat singing, and a special kind of Inuit square dancing. At one point they even got me involved, presenting me with a special drum dance cape (an "Attigi") and asked me to do a drum dance myself.  I did, and I tried my best.

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They gave me a nice round of applause but let's keep things in perspective -- there were no calls for an encore!
 
It was a very special evening and one that involved all ages -- the village elders were very much a part of the show but so were many of Gjoa Haven's youngest and they all were good natured and spirited in their presentations.
 
The Inuit are a part of the Franklin story we're here to tell.  It's their oral history of what happened in this area more than 160 years ago that is helping to piece together aspects of the search for Franklin's missing ships Erebus and Terror.  And the people here have been eager to be a part of our coverage so we'll devote our Tuesday night broadcast to the Inuit angle.
 
This is a small community -- at most a thousand residents and life isn't easy. The weather is a constant challenge, climate change is impacting life in both good and bad ways, unemployment and especially youth unemployment, worries many. Housing is an issue, through the roof food costs are stunning, and the environmental impact of increased sea traffic is being monitored, but through it all the Gjoa Haven Inuit are a proud people anxious to show their heritage to those like us traveling through the area.

And Friday night, we were lucky and honoured to witness it.

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