Category Archives: Northern Travel

Dene Hand Games…

Today Daisy and I drove to Behchoko to see the finals of the Dene Hand Games.

“The Hand Games were played years ago as a form of gambling among friends and different groups. Often the games were played to gamble for bullets, furs, dogs, toboggans, or stick matches. Today, however, the Hand Game is played in cultural centres, community carnivals and other events all over the Dene country as a friendly competition fostering community pride. The Hand Game is based on a simple concept of hiding and guessing of objects using elaborate hand signals and gestures to both find the object and hide the object.”

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to experience…I really wished this morning I had done some googling to find out more about rules to the games.  But Daisy was able to tell me the basic rules…and then by watching I was able to learn a bit more.  Then when I got back to Yellowknife, I found this awesome video from Alex and Luke on their visit to the Hand Games last year!

Take some time to watch it… because it really captures the games with the amazing drumming the way photos just can’t!  Alex and Luke also explain the basic rules to the games in their video.

So here are some of my photos from the day… it was PACKED!  Daisy and I stood for almost 3 hours before we got places to sit… it was such an awesome experience, I feel so honoured to be able to have had this experience.

In the top photo you can see a game taking place… and the bottom one–setting up for the next match, the mats where players and drummers kneel!

Here are some shots of the players hiding their tokens! 

There are tons of spectators… from the young to the old!  Everyone was keen to see which teams would advance to the finals!

The drumming was amazing…it was hard to stand still…makes your body want to move! The little drummer in the photos…kept going up and getting a spare drum to play on, sometimes having it taken from him.  Usually this was when a player that had their token guessed wanted to drum to encourage the remaining players! But the little drummer would wait until he could get his hands on another drum!

It was so amazing to see different generations playing this game…how the teams were mixed, and the passion and excitement was so powerful! 

Just because I always like a little bit of B&W…here’s a few for you to see… 

It was such an awesome day…thanks again Daisy for taking me!  It’s an experience I will never forget…

Here are a few road signs from our trip back to Yellowknife… it was about an hour’s drive.  

Kugluktuk: Night and Day

At the end of last week I was in Kugluktuk, Nunavut for a few days…  I was able to reconnect with Tara, an old friend from Pang who lived there in 2009 too! Tara was one of the people that flew to Iqaluit with me to help celebrate my 30th Birthday-ah good memories! We spent Friday night creating really good food…catching up, and talking about computers, editing photos, cameras and taking photos and random settings! It was a great evening…

Tara is a foodie…in 2009 she had a group of people over to have Korean Food--it was delish!  Turkey dinner at Christmas was also wonderful.  

Tonight was no different…we had a thin crust pizza with brie, parmesan, asparagus and mushrooms..I suggested we added on chilli peppers… it was so good!

Then we also had a fabulous Greek Salad.. mmmm feta and olives!  (yes, so much CHEESE… but so good…but SO MUCH CHEESE!) The second photo is of dessert… it was something Tara heard about on CBC radio. Apples cored then add nutella to core…wrap in pastry.. and bake.  OH so good…  I helped do the coring and filling with nutella part, Tara wrapped them up before the end of the night… 

Around 11:30 I was getting ready to head back to the hotel…when Tara looked out and saw that the light were out! So we got all bundled up–headed to the hotel to grab my tripod…and then back out to shoot the lights!  It was so cold, but at first I didn’t really notice… I managed to get about 2 awesome shots before my camera batteries ran out!

We took this last photo… before we headed inside.  I got back to the hotel at 1am–and we had been out shooting photos since just after midnight! I looked online and grabbed a screen shot of the current weather…no wonder I was cold…shocking!

Saturday morning I talked Tara into going back outside for a ‘quick’ walk… it was still cold low -30s with a colder wind chill factor!  But we did manage to walk around and take some photos of Kugluktuk in the daylight! You can see Tara’s photos HERE! I stayed at the Coppermine Inn a really nice homey place to stay… and AMAZING food!

These bundled up cuties were waiting for their dad to come back from inside the store…(yep–there was an adult that was driving on that sled!) If you look closely at the dog…even they get ‘frosty’ fur/hair!  

All covered in frost… But fun reflections in our sun glasses! Thanks Tara for the wonderful visit… and heading outside to take photos with me–even in the cold temps!

I had a great couple of days in Kugluktuk.  The people are so friendly…I met and had so many people, and had so many great converations..thanks for the wonderful visit.

Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

Wednesday I flew from Yellowknife, NWT via Kugluktuk to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut!  It was a clear but crisp day, perfect for landing.  

I stayed in the ‘Green Row’… if you ever visit Cambridge Bay, stay here and you won’t be disappointed. It was the best sleep I’ve ever had while traveling for work- the pillows, duvet and bed were so comfy!  It was so great to get such a good night’s sleep while travelling.  

Shadow photos are so much fun. This one I took while walking home for dinner.  (Work bag in the front…hood up to block the wind…Camara bag in the back, with camera strap hanging down low… makes for a fun photo!)
Here’s a look at some of the random signs… Cambridge Bay has a pedestrian crossing in front of the schools!

Earlier in the week Cambridge Bay had gotten a lot of snow…and then the wind blew even more snow into town. There were some pretty impressive snow drifts in front of buildings!

The first time I heard about someone moving up to Nunavut to live was Anne and that was about 7 years ago. Who is Anne? let me explain a bit. Anne’s mum lived with my mum’s family, while she was finishing high school…and my mum has always thought of her as a big sister.  I have some crazy memories of visiting Anne’s family farm one easter when my brothers had a hockey tournament near there!  When I was in my university I worked a crazy job every spring in a whole-sale-garden-bedding-plants place…for two years I stayed with Anne’s parents while I was working there!  Anne was the one that introduced me to Pride and Prejudice and the BBC version which created my love for Jane Austin.  When Anne moved to Cambridge Bay I remember doing some research and thought to myself–I so want to go visit her there!  Fast-forward to 2012…it happened!

Last night after my meetings I headed over to her house… to catch up and visit!  She introduced me to another AMAZING show.  “Downton Abbey” have you heard about it? We only had time to watch the first hour of part 1, season 1…I’ve heard a bit of about this series, but it doesn’t show on my cable package.  I’m thinking a little online-shopping might be in order!  (Don’t worry mum I’ll get you one of Season 1 too!)


…while on the way to the airport today,  Anne drove me around town and I took a few photos of the views around Cambridge Bay.  The top one… you can hardly see it…but Mt. Pelly is in the background… (follow the power line…it is the white shape along that line in the photo.) The next photo is a view looking towards the Bay… and finally a view at the Bay…
After checking in to the airport…Anne and I drove up to the well as the maintenance base for the area DEW Line sites.  The ‘golf’ balls are pretty ginormous…

Anne it was great to see you again..and glad I got to have a quick visit in Cambridge Bay…let’s not let another 6 years go by until we see each other again!

Walkin’ in the Sunshine in Yellowknife

Today my flight was cancelled…after  taking care of some business stuff…early afternoon I headed out to explore Yellowknife, as it was my first visit! It was a nice and sunny day here in Yellowknife.  I think the temperature was between -17/-20C…it felt so nice and warm walking in the sun compared to the temps I’ve experiencing in Pang!   It was a pretty awesome day. I met and talked to so many different people, everyone was extremely friendly…and helpful!  I left my hotel and walked along a lake path to the visitor’s centre! It was so nice to walk amongst the trees…they are something I miss so much when I’m home in Nunavut!

After talking to a very helpful guy at the Visitors Centre…I headed off on foot to Old Town.  I wanted to see the Snow Castle built by the SnowKing.  This is the 17th Snow Castle that has been built in YK.  I wasn’t sure what to expect…I had NEVER been to a snow castle before, but as I approached I knew I was NOT going to be disappointed! 

…pretty impressive!  The windows are made out of ice blocks that were gathered/cut starting in November…and stored until the was enough snow to start making the castle.  In January and February the castle starts to take form, and is sculpted and made ready for opening the 1st of March.  

I took a walk around the outside of the castle… there was a slide built for kids…looking pretty fun! 

I entered the snow Castle, paid my money and marvelled at the inside…it was so cool! (well actually it was quite warm…in temperature that is!) As I was walking around the inside… I came across the SnowKing himself… Of course I embarrassed myself, when I asked him..”Did you help make the castle?” He looked at me and laughed and replied something like I am the Snow King!  I laughed and told him how cool it was…then continued on to explore and take more photos.  

I took so many photos of the interior of the castle…was so glad that I put my wide-angle lens back in my camera bag!  I’m going to share just a few of them with you here…

Right now there is an Art Exhibit on display…its a collection of photos from Girish Nayer.  The group of photos were taken in India…it was really neat to see the colourful photos on the crisp white background.  

After walking around a bit more… I came across another man who was working on the windows of the castle.  He was using a hair dryer to try to melt a bit of the ice to make it go clear…it was an experiment! (but the outside of the ice was still pretty foggy-so not really having the desired results!) We started talking…this is his 7th or 8th castle he has worked on with the Snow King.  I’m horrible at remembering names…we did exchange them..but I promptly forgot it! During our conversation he answered some of my questions about the process of how the castle is built.  There is basic ‘building’ pieces–that hold the outhouses, electrical room–for lights, and sound… after those are placed… then forms are put up… there’s an ‘inside’ form and outside… then snow is packed in the form with a big loader!  (that’s why in some of my photos you might see wood marks on the  on the roof or walls!) The ice blocks for the windows are placed on snow blocks…in the right places… then metal rods help find them later when the carving happens.  (I’m sure there is MUCH more to the process…but that’s the story I got!)

Near the end of our conversation, I mentioned that I grew up in Ontario…he was like where? I replied, “…Haliburton” (Often people don’t know where it is)..he smiled and said he grew up in Peterborough.  His mum grew up in Haliburton…who probably was 4-5 years ahead of my mum in school!  Small world we live in eh?

Just as I was leaving I took this series of timer-self-portraits… 

I walked along the ice road to head to the Pilot’s Monument.  It’s one of the look-out areas in Old Town that gives a good view of Yellowknife.  (I tired a few times to stitch together a bunch of my shots to create a panoramic view..but that will wait for another time!)

While I was up there… a float plane (with skis) took off… that was pretty neat to watch! 

It was great to see a bit of Yellowknife!

Igloo in Igloolik

On Thursday night during dinner I found out that there was an Igloo beside the high school.  I was pretty excited…because I had never seen on up-close, only in photos and in books! I didn’t go that night–because it was dark, but decided to head over in the morning before my flight left. There is a bit of irony I think that I saw my first Igloo while visiting Igloolik, but I like it!

Friday morning as I left the hotel..the sun was just starting to rise over town.  I think the sun rising and setting are so breathtaking in the Arctic!

I arrived at the Igloo…and took a shot of me outside!  I’m not 100% sure why it was built…but I think it was built to help celebrate the return of the sun festival a few weeks earlier.  Someone did tell me that elders have been going and having tea and making bannock inside.  It was too early in the morning and no one was there when I visited…A look back towards town… the sun still coming up over the town.  Igloolik is lucky because there are no mountains…the sun returns a lot sooner! 

Here you can see the ‘window’ that was made for the living part of the igloo…and also the smoke stack.  Here’s me climbing through the door from the living portion of the Igloo into the porch area.  The porch area had a bench on either side. One side had a bag of seal oil for the qulliq and on the other side were some extra furs.

The middle photo shows the ‘roof’ in the living area of the igloo–this is the 2nd dome.  This Igloo had a canvas lining that was against the snow blocks on the ceiling–they were held up by wooden plugs that were pushed through the snow and then frozen over with water… (you can see these ‘wooden’ place holders on the outside of the igloo in the photo with me standing beside it).  The living portion of the Igloo in the 2nd dome was pretty awesome… you can see the raised sleeping area(back 1/2 of the Igloo)…there was a pile of furs on top of the snow shelf to make it really comfy!  To the left and right of the sleeping area it was set up for cooking… It really was a nice cozy home!

I regretted cleaning out my camera bag before my trip…because I took out my wide angle lens (10-22mm) and well it would have photographed the interior of the igloo so much better!  Isn’t that always life though? When you don’t have something you really wish you had it and when you have it…you never use it?
Here’s the view looking outside from the porch (1st Igloo dome)…Another view from outside… (aren’t self portraits and timers awesome!).  I felt very lucky to to and be able to visit this Igloo–as it was set up like a home, not just a survival shelter! After the quick morning visit at the igloo we returned to the hotel.  On our drive out to the airport we drove past the Inuksuit (the plural of Inuksuk) that stand on the hill overlooking Igloolik…I grabbed a photo of them in the rising sun.  Even though they were waiting for us at the airport, I asked to stop so I could jump out of the van and took these two photos.  It took 30seconds…and I’m so glad I did…because the colours in the sky are amazing and now I have a photo to go along with my memories of Igloolik!