Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Canada Day in Cambridge Bay

Canada Day! I'd celebrated the national holiday all over the country - Toronto, Charlottetown, Vancouver, and of course Ottawa - but this year was my first time celebrating Canada Day in Nunavut in 3°C weather. 

Even though Cambridge Bay is relatively smaller than the other cities, the hamlet still had a full day's worth of activities planned.  First there was the flag raising ceremony. Our MP Leona Aglukkaq, our MLA Keith Peterson, and our mayor Jeannie Ehaloak raised the three flags of Cambridge Bay, Canada, and Nunavut, while the national anthem played nearby from a laptop. It was a great start to the day...especially when a tiny dog broke loose and began sniffing all the flag poles in curiosity.

After the flag raising ceremony was the Fun Run, which took us from the Wellness Centre to Water Lake and back - approximately 5 kilometres.  Usually 5 kilometres is a good comfortable run for me, but once I started running, I realized that I was out of shape.  I had been sick for the last week, and then the week before that I was too busy with my sister's wedding, so it had been a little while since I last exercised. More significantly, even though it was 3°C outside, there was a fierce wind blowing against us that made it feel like -1°C.  I wasn't properly dressed and I was freezing.  It got worse once I was out of the town and out in the tundra, where nothing blocked the wind.  It felt like the cold wind was forcing itself into my ears and battering against my brain.

Despite this, I kept running. Most people were actually walking the Fun Run, so I had a chance to pass them and wish them a happy Canada Day, while they yelled "RUN GLORIA RUN" at me.  There was one guy that was way ahead of me the whole time, running like the wind wasn't freezing him at all.  It was P, the guy that had been voted Frolics King.

approaching Water Lake

People have commented on the rather obvious name of Water Lake.  I think Water Lake is called that not so much to describe the contents of the lake, but rather because it is where the town gets our water from. Not to be confused with the Sewage Lagoon, which is where our sewage goes.  This is an important distinction.

Once I reached Water Lake and began running back to town, the sun was suddenly on my face and the wind died down to a gentle breeze at  my back.  I soon realized that I was hot, agonizingly overheating. It's hard to run in the cold wind, but I find it even harder to run in the hot sun. This is the Arctic. One moment you're freezing, and the other moment you feel like you're dying of heat.

Finally I made it back to the Wellness Centre, ahead of most of the walkers, and was awarded with a delicious brunch, where I ate back all the calories I had just exercised off.

In the afternoon, we checked out the community barbecue where they were serving free hot dogs and hamburgers.  "Nobody's going to starve today," I heard someone comment behind me, and it was true - for that day at least, nobody was going to go hungry.

The barbecue was being held at the old baseball diamond outside of town, by the airport. It's a bit of a drive - relatively, I mean, because nothing is really more than ten minutes away - but there was a shuttle to bring the elders in from town, and everyone else rode in on their ATVs and trucks. It gave me a chance to enjoy the view of the tundra in the summer, now that the snow had all melted.

They had rented a "Happy Train" for the kids to play in.  It was pretty much a bouncy castle, but they called it a Happy Train, although I really didn't quite understand the train motif. I did understand the "happy" part - the kids were going crazy jumping around in it and squealing.  At one point, the children figured out how to mosh and it was all over.

It was pretty nice to see pretty much the whole town come out and socialize with each other.  Elders going around, patting us on the back to wish us a Happy Canada Day, while kids played around on their parents' ATVs.  One family towed in their speedboat on their truck and went for a ride out on the water.  It was windy out by the ocean, and I was freezing in my jeans and sneakers, but I was amazed to see some of the locals hanging around wearing shorts and flipflops like it was nothing.  I guess I still have some acclimatizing to do.

giant Canada Day cake!

softball game at the old diamond