Inuvik's Santa Claus parade may feature a real reindeer

Organizers in Inuvik, N.W.T., are getting ready for their first Santa Claus parade in recent memory, and if all goes well, they'll have a star attraction. 'I thought it would be fun for everybody to have a reindeer.'

'I hope everyone will get to meet him,' says Anna Sofia Johannson

Addjub is an 18-month-old bull from Canada's only free range reindeer herd in the N.W.T.'s Beaufort Delta. Anna Sofia Johannson says she's been pestering her husband for years to tame one of their animals. (submitted by Anna Sofia Johannson )

As if the return of the Santa Claus parade wasn't enough, organizers in Inuvik, N.W.T., say they're hoping a real live reindeer will lead Santa's sleigh this year, although the couple tasked with training the animal aren't certain he'll be ready in time. 

"We want him to feel comfortable and safe," says Anna Sofia Johannson, the wife of Henrik Seva, who keeps Canada's only free range reindeer herd just outside of town.

  • AUDIO Click the link on the left to hear Anna Sofia Johannson speak to Northwind's Wanda McLeod

Johannson says she's been pestering her husband for years to tame one of their animals.  

"I thought it would be fun for everybody to have a reindeer."  

Seva is the chief herder for a semi-domestic herd of roughly 3,000 animals on the tundra in the Mackenzie Delta. It's been in the area for nearly 80 years after being pushed from Nome, Alaska.

This year Seva lassoed Addjub, an 18-month-old bull, and brought it into town to stay in a corral on their property.  

'I assumed it would be like handling a wild yearling'

Addjub means 'grandson' in Samiguela, the language of the Sami people in Arctic Lapland. (submitted by Anna Sofia Johannson)
"We can walk into the corral and he doesn't panic," Johannson says. "And we can walk up and talk to him and sing to him and feed him and he's very, very quiet.

"That's the very, very beginning of his training."

Johannson says she's feeding Addjub from 50 garbage bags of lichen her husband collected before the snow fell.

The next step will be trying to lead him this weekend, a process Johannson likens to getting a dog or pony or a horse to walk on a leash  something she's familiar with from having grown up on a horse farm.  

"I assumed it would be like handling a wild yearling," she says. "This reindeer is very, very quick with his front feet and that's new for me. We're going to take this really slowly."

Johannson says they've named the reindeer Addjub, which means "grandson" in Samiguela or the language of the Sami, Seva's mother-tongue.

'We're going to decorate the hell out of it'

Vince Sharpe, left, is preparing a log cabin for the parade. (David Thurton/CBC)
It's all about getting Addjub ready to appear in Inuvik's Santa Claus parade, organized this year by Vince Sharpe.  

"Last week I was sitting at my computer. I was Facebooking, and I said 'Inuvik should have a Santa Claus parade,'" he says.

Sharpe has already begun work on his own float: a log cabin.

"We're going to decorate the hell out of it."  

He says others, like the local fire department, have already confirmed they'll participate, and he's getting notes from people out of town planning to travel in for the parade.  

Sharpe says they're making plans for a little roped-off area where people can hopefully meet the star attraction after he rides along with Santa and his sleigh. 

"Like all those Styrofoam reindeer in the Toronto parade," he says. "But we've got real ones. We're from the North."


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