Winnipeg Inuit games and feast important for 'community connectedness,' organizer says
Gathering the 1st major one for Inuit community in Winnipeg since pandemic
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:
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