Inuit in Canada’s western Arctic urged to mark Inuvialuit Day at home or out on the land

Drummers and dancers performing at Inuvialuit Day 2019 in the Arctic town of Inuvik. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s performances will be broadcast on social media. Otherwise, Inuvialuit are being encouraged mark the day at home or out on the land. (Courtesy Elizabeth Kolb)
Inuit in Canada’s western Arctic are being encouraged to celebrate Inuvialuit Day at home, or out on the land, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Events led by Community Corporations to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement will now need to be celebrated in family settings,” said the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC), the organization that represents Inuit in the Northwest Territories (NWT) in Canada’s western Arctic, in a news release. 

Inuvialuit Day is held June 5, and marks the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) land claim agreement in 1984. The day is usually marked by BBQs, performances and Inuit games.

Celebrating on the land

This year, the IRC says they’ll be broadcasting performances by community drum dance groups on the IRC Facebook page, but are otherwise encouraging people to celebrate at home or at their hunting camps, for those who’ve taken advantage of the IRC’s On the Land support.

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation’s On the Land support has helped 1,986 people to spend extended periods out on the land, says IRC CEO Duane Smith, pictured left, with Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization, at Inuvialuit Day 2019 in the Arctic town of Inuavik. (Courtesy Elizabeth Kolb)

The IRC’s On the Land program was set up to help promote social distancing in the NWT’s communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing funds that would enable families with hunting camps or cabins to go out on the land for 14 days or more.

” (I’m) pleased to see many Inuvialuit have planned to be on the land and will be celebrating Inuvialuit Day at their camps,” said Duane Smith, the IRC’s CEO.  “IRC’s On the Land support has assisted 541 families, meaning that 1,986 total individuals can spend extended amounts of time enjoying their spring out on the land.”

The Inuit population in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region is 3,115.

No more active cases in NWT

To date, the Northwest Territories has had a total of five confirmed COVID-19 cases. All people have since recovered and the territory has been relaxing COVID-19 measures since mid-May.

Write to Eilis Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

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Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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