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'Standing ovation' in Iqaluit bar greets milestone gay marriage in Nunavut

Two men feted their wedding with friends in Iqaluit earlier this month in what is believed to be the first time a gay Inuk man has married in the territory.

'It was the best event I ever went to,' says Dwayne Nowdlak

Joe Kucharski and Dwayne Nowdlak's marriage was a huge party in Iqaluit. (Photo submitted by Joe Kucharski)

Two men feted their wedding with friends in Iqaluit earlier this month in what is believed to be the first time a gay Inuk man has married in the territory.

Joe Kucharski and Dwayne Nowdlak met in Iqaluit in 2013 and married on June 3. They're grateful for the support they received from family and friends.

Nowdlak is from Pangnirtung.

"Everyone came including his birth mother and his sister, who is very close to him. And they all made speeches about how they accept him and they accept us," Kurcharski said.

"They're not used to this type of relationship, but they accept us because they know we love each other and that we have a daughter, so they accept our family."

According to Nunavut government records, this marks the first time a self-declared Inuk man has married another man in the territory (though there has been at least one Inuk woman). 

The recently married Joe Kucharski and Dwayne Nowdlak are grateful for their wedding and all the support they received. (Submitted by Joe Kucharski)

A friend and professional wedding planner transformed an Iqaluit banquet room for the special day, using floating candles, 800 flowers, and draped lights.

"When you walked into it, you thought you were in a New York banquet facility rather than downtown Iqaluit," Kucharski said.

Nowdlak agreed.

"The wedding was brilliant. It was the best event I ever went to," he said.

After the wedding, the couple moved the party to the local pub — the place where they first met.

"We went to the local pub to finish off our night with a dance,"  Kucharski said. "We got a standing ovation … so it ended very nicely."

With files from Lissie Anaviapik