Warm start to spring has some N.W.T. jamborees changing things up

This year’s early start to spring in much of the Northwest Territories means several communities are making changes to their yearly jamborees.

Unseasonably warm weather seen throughout the territory in past few months

People gathered for the harpoon-throwing competition at the Muskrat Jamboree in Inuvik last weekend. Several N.W.T. jamborees have had to make adjustments because of warm weather. (Submitted by Kristian Binder)

This year's early start to spring in much of the Northwest Territories means several communities are making changes to their yearly jamborees.

In Fort Providence, an early melt on the Mackenzie River meant that they had to cancel their snowmobile races last week because it was unsafe. The ice looks just about ready to break up about a month ahead of schedule, according to a resident.

"It's opened quite a bit and the ice is starting to pop up on top of the other ice," explained Rose Vandell, who lives near the river.

"There's wide-open water and it's widening every day. There's lots of ducks and geese landing!"

Vandell added that the ice looks pretty thin and ready to move. 

"You can just see where it's rotting out. It's becoming thinner and thinner. We think it's going to go soon."

Usually the ice near Fort Providence is safe until Mother's Day, when Vandell and her mom often go out to the cabin. But that won't be the case this year, Vandell said.

'Spring came a lot faster' 

Unseasonably warm weather in the territory has been a theme for the past couple of months.

During last month's heat wave, 25 N.W.T. communities were set to break warm weather records, the Mackenzie Valley Highway turned to a muddy mess seemingly overnight, and the Snowking castle in Yellowknife closed early for the first time in its 24-year history.

Last weekend's Muskrat Jamboree in Inuvik went on as planned, but organizers had asked guests to keep their trucks off the ice, just in case. 

A look at the swampy conditions on the Mackenzie Valley winter road outside Tulita last month. This week's jamboree is going ahead, but without the snowmobile race. (Submitted by Terry Eddibar )

Organizers of the spring festival in Tulita, about 700 kilometres further down river from Fort Providence, have also cancelled their snowmobile races for their carnival this weekend.

The weather in that community had been above freezing all week and it's not safe there either, explained Samantha Bayha, the senior administrative officer with the hamlet.

"Spring came a lot faster this year," Bayha said. "Last year we were able to do our Ski Doo races, but because spring came so early this year, we weren't able to have them."

Despite that, the Tulita carnival went off without a hitch this week, beginning Tuesday and continuing throughout the weekend, Bayha said.

It included cribbage tournaments, Easter crafts and cupcake contests, a pancake breakfast, chili cook out, skeet shooting and outdoor games.

Meanwhile In Fort McPherson in the Mackenzie Delta, everything is going on as scheduled, but their snowmobile race nearly didn't happen.

A cold snap earlier this week helped keep the river safe for competitors.

"We were just about to cancel it, and then we started getting colder weather," explained Sierra Daley, who's with the Peel River Jamboree.

"It's been pretty cool [this week] so we're going to continue with our race."

Written by Alex Brockman, based on interviews by Wanda McLeod and Lawrence Nayally


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