Festivities at the Inuvik Sunrise Festival in 2012. Inuvik Phil photo.
The sun will rise today in Inuvik, NWT for the first time since December 5th. The celebration will be rejoiced by the 3,300 townsfolk and hundreds of travelers during the weekend’s 31st Annual Inuvik Sunrise Festival to honor the return of light to the region.
An ice village in the Twin Lakes area has been constructed as the main attraction and will feature igloos,sculptures, a teepee and an expanded sliding hill for kids to enjoy. Three days of fun and celebration will occur mainly in the Midnight Sun and Twin Lakes districts.
“Hibernation time” is how Kylik Kisoun-Taylor, Owner of Tundra North Tours, describes the sun -lees period leading up to the reemergence. The continuous 24 – hour darkness is in stark contrast to the non-stop daylight in the summer.
“I feel like this town really shuts down. The restaurants aren’t as busy, everyone is really recuperating, and then once the sun comes out, everyone comes back alive.”, states Kisoun – Taylor.
Relatives of resident families and loved ones also return for visits at this uplifting time of year. It’s a celebration of life itself.
Sunrise in Inuvik. Town of Inuvik photo.
“It’s really nice to see because you want to show off where you live and what better time to show it off than when there is all of this great stuff to look, at a festival, bonfire and fireworks.” says Mackenzie Chauvin who took advantage of an airline discount to visit his cousin.
“They started talking to us about the sunrise festival and the darkness and that it’s really just a good time to get an authentic visit to see what Inuvik’s about.”, states Chauvin.
Canadian North and Air North are both offering discounted tickets for travelers jorneying to Inuvik for the festival.
Drum dancing at the Inuvik Sunrise Festival. Lu North photo.
Chris Sharpe, Inuvik’s marketing and communications coordinator, is enjoying his first northern winter. He is proud to announce some new activities this year, such as a concert by well-known Canadian musician and songwriter, Norman Foote, .as well as a dance party and DJ workshop. Drum dancing and vendors from local eateries will kick off the festival.
“I recommend it to everybody. If you live on this earth, you should try everything at least once. I’m really glad I experienced it, and I’m super excited the sun is coming back,” he laughed.
You’ve heard the expression “Island time”. In fact you’ve probably uttered it once or twice yourself after experiencing the casual, slowed down lifestyle of people in places that seem to have figured out how to enjoy life…well at least vacation life…usually by the warm, blue water somewhere.
Sundogs in Churchill, Manitoba. Brad Josephs photo.
Well “tundra time” is a similar lifestyle but perhaps comes from the opposite end of the weather comfort spectrum. Churchill and the rest of the northern Arctic region of Canada moves at a pace most southerners would call…um…slow. And that’ s being generous. Maybe because the north exists in a cryogenic state of frozen time for a good part of the year there’s really no energy to go fast at any point. Tundra time.
When visiting Churchill, everything moves slower. Restaurant service is slower..hence meals take longer. Vehicles move slower…especially Polar Rovers looking for slow, ambling polar bears. Maybe that’s the key…polar bears set the pace for everything around the area. They are in no hurry to go anywhere…except out on the ice. However, they can’t make the ice form so they instinctively know to take it easy….cause it’s “tundra time” mon!
Polar bear cooling off in Churchill, MB. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
The train….ha..well anyone that has traveled with Via rail along the Hudson Bay Railway knows the literal definition of “tundra time”. The train tracks often turn a 36 hour trip into a 42 hour trip or more. Why? Because the tracks wind across the tundra that contains permafrost….icy ground. When that icy permafrost heats up and melts a bit, especially in summer, the tracks move slightly and a speeding train has to slow down so to not exert too much force on the steel rails and then end up on ..er..the tundra…stopped in the middle of nowhere. Tundra time.
Most of all the people in Churchill move slower. Churchillian’s by and large are not going far. Well, they can’t drive far as there are no roads out of town unless you want to go to the Churchill Northern Studies Center or a bit further out to Twin Lakes. People in Churchill actually have time to talk with one another, not email or telephone. They actually meet at Gypsy’s or the Seaport Hotel and sit and talk for sometimes hours and enjoy multiple cups of coffee. There’s a “local table” at Gypsy’s up front that is just for that…talking….slowly … and in person. Tundra time.
Nearly everything in the north operates on tundra time. We should all experience it once in awhile.