Manitoba

Winnipeg Inuit games and feast important for 'community connectedness,' organizer says

The Inuit community in Winnipeg took part in its first major gathering in two years on Saturday, coming together for Arctic sports, food and conversation.

Gathering the 1st major one for Inuit community in Winnipeg since pandemic

Nikki Komaksiutiksak, the executive director of local urban Inuit organization Tunngasugit, helped organize an Inuit games and community feast event in Winnipeg on Saturday. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The Inuit community in Winnipeg took part in its first major gathering in two years on Saturday, coming together for Arctic sports, food and conversation.

Dozens of people attended the community feast and games at Valour Community Centre hosted by local urban Inuit organization Tunngasugit.

The Inuit games gathering was so important to people living in Winnipeg, said Nikki Komaksiutiksak, the executive director for the organization.

"Because of the pandemic, a lot of our people have been feeling very isolated. Mental health crises [have] skyrocketed within our community and we've heard ... it's because there's that lack of community connectedness," she said.

"It was really important for us to to serve our community in this way so that they didn't feel like we forgot about them."

WATCH | Inuit games help connect Winnipeg community:

Inuit games in Winnipeg brings people together, organizer says

3 months ago
Duration 2:06
Organizer Nikki Komaksiutiksak and participants Maxine Angoo and Kyle Worl explain the importance of the Inuit games and feast held in Winnipeg on April 30, which they say marked the Inuit community’s first major gathering in the city since before the pandemic.

Maxine Angoo moved from the North to Winnipeg 11 years ago, and said gatherings are especially important for those who don't have family in the city.

"Some people haven't seen each other for two years and you'll notice people hugging. And just, like, being in the presence of your own people, that's such a exhilarating feeling when you live outside of Nunavut," she said.

In addition to sharing caribou and whale meat, some Inuit athletes showcased their skills.

For Alaska's Kyle Worl, the event was an opportunity to see the excitement in people who are moved by Inuit games.

"You never know who is going to really connect with the games. And there is a young boy here that's taught himself the games and who's kicking above his head. And it's really incredible to see that," Worl said.

"Maybe he didn't know about his potential that maybe he could someday become an athlete or a coach."

With files from Andrew Wildes

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