Triumph for a tradition

KANGIRSUK, Nunavut – In the sixth annual running of the Ivakkak, which celebrates the tradition of dog-sledding in Nunavik, a part of Arctic Canada, Inuit mushers Peter Kiatainaq and his partner, Peter Qisiiq Jr., from the village of Kangiqsujuaq, were the first of 15 teams to cross the finish line in Kangirsuk on the shores of Ungava Bay. This method of travel was nearly eradicated with the methodical slaughter of Inuit sled dogs by representatives of the Canadian government during the mid-20th century. (See “Sled dog slaughter,” Vol. 24, Iss. 36.)

The winners of Ivakkak 2006 arrived at 6:11 p.m. on the evening of April 1 – five days, seven hours, two minutes and 48 seconds after they started out on Nunavik’s eastern shore in the village of Puvirnituk. The winners were hoisted onto the shoulders of the waiting crowd and received their trophy, the Ivakkak Cup, at a ceremony April 4. By then, all participating teams had crossed the finish line in the grueling race.