Winnipeg’s Inuit community took part in its first major gathering in two years on Saturday, coming together for sports, food and conversation in the Arctic.
Dozens of people attended the community feast and games hosted at the Valor Community Center by local urban Inuit organization Tunngasugit.
The Inuit Games Gathering was so important to the people of Winnipeg, said Nikki Komaksiutiksak, the organization’s executive director.
“Due to the pandemic, many of our fellow citizens feel very isolated. Mental health crises [have] skyrocketed within our community and we heard … it’s because there’s this lack of community connection,” she said.
“It was really important to us to serve our community in this way so they don’t feel like we’ve forgotten about them.”
WATCH | Inuit games help connect the Winnipeg community:
Maxine Angoo moved from the North to Winnipeg 11 years ago and said the gatherings are especially important for those who don’t have family in the city.
“Some people haven’t seen each other in two years and you’ll notice people hugging each other. And just, like, being in the presence of your own people, it’s such an uplifting feeling when you live outside the Nunavut,” she said.
In addition to sharing caribou and whale meat, some Inuit athletes demonstrated their skills.
For Alaska’s Kyle Worl, the event was a chance to see the excitement in people who are moved by Inuit games.
“You never know who’s really going to connect with the games. And there’s a young boy here who taught himself the games and is kicking over his head. And it’s really amazing to see that,” Worl said.
“Maybe he didn’t know about his potential that maybe he could one day become an athlete or a coach.”