Lights out for Arctic town’s Christmas iceberg

Share
In Nunavut, iceberg water is considered the best drinking water, and elders say it makes the best tea. That's why people in Pond Inlet didn't decorate an iceberg with Christmas lights this year. (The Associated Press)
In Nunavut, iceberg water is considered the best drinking water, and elders say it makes the best tea. That’s why people in Pond Inlet didn’t decorate an iceberg with Christmas lights this year. (The Associated Press)
A holiday tradition on the northern tip of Baffin Island in Canada’s High Arctic is no more.

In recent years, people in the tiny Inuit community of Pond Inlet, (pop. 1,500), in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, had started a new holiday tradition by stringing Christmas lights around a nearby iceberg.

It’s a festive relief from the 10 weeks of darkness that falls on the community each winter.

But iceberg water is renowned for being as pure as the driven snow, and any iceberg that freezes into the ice near the community is also a coveted source of drinking water. Locals snowmobile out on the ice, carve off chunks of iceberg, and ferry them home in their kamotiks or sleighs. Elders says it makes the best tea.

Last Christmas, the hamlet council heard concerns from elders about the bulbs breaking, and possibly contaminating their drinking water with glass and mercury — even though modern Christmas lights don’t contain mercury.

Joshua Arreak coordinated the last Christmas iceberg in 2011.

Pond Inlet, Nunavut. (CBC.ca)
Pond Inlet, Nunavut. (CBC.ca)

“A few bulbs break and that’s our drinking water,” he says. “It’s pure iceberg drinking water and could be contaminated by fumes. So that was the concern, so we’re not doing it this year.”

Arreak says there are no future plans to light up an iceberg, even if safer light bulbs are used.

Share
CBC News

CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *