Northerners honoured for contributions to Inuvialuit communities
'I could just barely breathe, it was that emotional for me,' says winner of the Advancement of Elders Award
Several Northerners were honoured Tuesday night for contributing to their communities.
The awards were given out by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami during a community feast in Inuvik, N.W.T., ahead of the organization's annual general meeting on Wednesday.
Inuvik's Underwood Day, Melissa Rogers and Peggy Day took home three of the awards.
Underwood Day received the Advancement of Youth Award for his athletic achievements. The 17-year-old has been practicing Arctic sports for about six years.
Rogers and Day were both given the Community Volunteer Award for their work with Inuvik's two shelters.
"It seems like our work is being noticed and the shelter is needed in our community," said Day, who works with Inuvik's homeless shelter.
"We have not only the Inuvik community, but we have the surrounding communities as well... We're a regional centre."
The Aklavik Drummers and Dancers group was also honoured with the Advancement in Culture and Language Award.
Faith Gordon and Mary Ruth Meyook travelled from Aklavik to accept the award on behalf of the group.
"We're very proud to represent our culture as Inuvialuit drummers and dancers," said Meyook, adding they want to keep their language alive.
"We'll pass it on through dancing, singing, and teaching our youth."
For 73-year-old Fred Bennett, who was honoured with the Advancement of Elders Award, the moment was an emotional one.
He was given a standing ovation as he accepted his award with tears in his eyes.
"I could just barely breathe, it was that emotional for me, to be acknowledged by the different groups," he said.
Bennett is a retired community justice coordinator.
He was recognized for developing on-the-land programs, as well as his passion for community development.
Recipients received a plaque, along with a hand-crafted ulu or a knife.
Here's what some of the winners had to say: