Arctic Canadian community celebrates return of the sun

People gathered around a large bonfire in the community Saturday night. (Allison Devereaux/CBC)Sun disappears for nearly a month in winter

A small sliver of sun lit up a community in Canada’s Arctic on Sunday.

People in the community of Inuvik, Northwest Territories, have been living in near-darkness for about a month. The sun will rise at about 1:40 p.m. Mountain Time Sunday.

Friday night was the start of week-long celebrations to welcome the sun’s return. On Saturday, fireworks lit up the sky above a crowd of hundreds, all wearing parkas and fur.

There was a large bonfire to keep people outside warm, as well.

Gordon Simms is a firefighter who stacked the 1,000 wooden pallets.

“We threw a bit of diesel fuel, gas, paper, kindling wood, some Christmas trees and then we threw the match,” he said.

Firefighter Rick Lindsay said he was looking forward to the extra hunting hours daylight brings.

“The darkness, so much darkness — you’ve got to do everything with a flashlight or headlight. Once the sun starts coming back, it’s good.”

Inuvik resident Kendall McDonald is excited the sun is coming back.

“A month of darkness — you tend to get down. You know it’s coming back and you rejuvenate.”

On Sunday afternoon, a sliver of sun is expected to peek above the horizon. Its appearance will last just 45 minutes, but it will be a welcome sight in the community of about 3,400 people.

There was also a carving competition and a snowmobile parade on Saturday.

Toronto-based pop musician named Lights will wrap up celebrations later this week. The Juno-award winner will perform at the iconic Igloo Church.

20-year-old Quentin Bodnar-McLeod plans to be in the crowd.

“Never in my whole entire existence, I would never think like a musician of that stature would want to come north. It’s going to be an amazing experience for sure.”

People in Inuvik will have reason to keep celebrating — the minutes of sunlight will increase daily.

In six months’ time, the community will have 24 hours of sunlight.

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