Saturday was a very special day for the community of Salluit; graduation day! We were so eager to join the day long festivities celebrating the hard work of the 9 all female graduates. We got to the school in the morning to help the kitchen team. Ikusik school sure knows how to make a good feast. We were chopping fruit and veggies, slicing turkeys and hams and icing cupcakes. In the early afternoon, we joined the graduates as they got pampered for their important day. We curled hair and painted nails and chatted with these smart, talented and beautiful graduates. We then had the opportunity to join the whole community in the graduation ceremony, followed by a delicious dinner for the graduates, their families and the Ikusik staff. We are so proud of the graduates and are so grateful to have been apart of this magical day.
We spent the following day with our good friend Louisa. Louisa has lived in Salluit her whole life and she was keen to share her language and culture with us. Louisa took the time to introduce us to the inuktitut language, showing us the alphabet and syllabics as well as a handful of words and phrases. After our inuktitut session, the three of us did face masks and then went for a nice long walk up the hills and around the community. We finished off Sunday with evening church. It was a beautiful service filled with signing led by one of the singers from the Salluit band.
Monday was Kathryn’s 21st birthday, and it was most definitely one for the books. In the evening, we celebrated with some of our new friends: Cindy, Charlie (the school director), Louisa, Nancy (Louisa’s daughter) and Paul (our amazing host!). This was an evening filled with good food, friends and laughs. Louisa kindly brought an arctic char and we all sat on the ground in a circle to enjoy this delicacy. The fish had been caught that weekend by Louisa’s son and we ate it frozen. Louisa cut the arctic char with her ulu (woman’s knife) and we dipped it in soy sauce. We will never forget Kathryn’s 21st birthday that’s for sure!
We spent a good chunk of our week with the boys from the rehab. We love spending time with this awesome group and it was so nice to be able to do fun activities with them after a month of health lessons. Of course, we hit the ice and played one more good game of hockey with these talented athletes. On Tuesday, we organized a make-your-own pizza event for the boys. It was so fun to knead the dough and personalize our pizzas with this fun bunch. On Thursday, we went on a hike to the inukshuk with a group from the rehab. We still can’t get over the view from the top of the mountain.
This week we also introduced yoga to our students. We ran two yoga and smoothies events for our grade 3 students. We love how energetic and eager to learn our grades 3s are. They are always open to a challenge and they absolutely rocked at yoga. One of our grade 3 boys stopped us at the grocery store asking for more yoga! We continued the yoga theme and led a class for our grade 5 and 6 girls. These gals got their zen on and striked their best warrior 1,2 and 3 poses. Namaste!
This was the last week of school before summer and we enjoyed taking part in the various activities at school. We played soccer in the gym, baked in the kitchen and helped collect garbage around the community.
Wednesday evening was the talent show and we were so eager to join the community in this celebration of good music and the end of the school year. Our good friend Thomas from Youth Fusion was the organizer of this event and we were happy to help. We painted a big banner for the show which was in both english and inuktitut (with help from Louisa). On the day of the event, we went early to join in on some of the fun activities: improv games, dancing and a ukulele lesson. This was a community-wide event and it was such a hoot being surrounded by some of our favourite teachers, students and community members. The show consisted of acts from hard-working students and featured a performance from the one and only Charlie. The talent show ended with a performance from Nunavut’s Aasiva, a well-known artist. We were so honoured to have seen this young and talented artist perform live. Check her out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtQ5nYsFZ0o
As this was our last week in the community we were determined to finish our pualuks. With the help of Louisa, we finished sewing our leather and added our rabbit fur trim. We are so excited to sport our new mittens at Queen’s next winter and we will forever be reminded of Louisa and the beautiful community of Salluit.
Thursday was our last night in the community and we spent the evening with our dear friend Cindy. We shared a delicious meal featuring tuktuk (caribou) from Cindy’s longtime friend Annie. The tuktuk had been frozen and we first tried it raw before we cooked it along with our raclette. We both loved tuktuk but both agreed we preferred it cooked! We were so very grateful to have spent our last evening with good company and good food.
We flew home Friday and were lucky to make it back in one day.
As our initiative comes to an end, words cannot express our gratitude for this opportunity and pictures do not do justice the pure beauty of Salluit. We can both agree that this was a life changing experience and that Salluit will forever hold a special place in our hearts. We are so lucky to have met so many amazing people, be immersed in a beautiful culture and have shared our passion for health with the community.
Nakurmiik Salluit, you will be missed.
Lots of love,
Your Sal Pals (Kate & Kathryn)