K’amba Carnival still going strong

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Sometimes when you get used to something, you don’t always appreciate how exceptional it might be.

In an odd way, familiarity – and the sense that something is always going to be there, no matter what – seems to create a kind of complacency.

One of our favourite examples is the lowly postage stamp. For a little over a buck, you can buy a postage stamp, put it on a letter and a huge organization will deliver that letter to any post office or mailbox in Canada. When you think about it, mailing a letter is quite amazing.

Yet, no one really thinks about it. Mailing a letter is so commonplace (at least it used to be commonplace before the arrival of the digital age and its email) that it is just nothing out of the ordinary.

We were thinking about that – seriously, we were thinking about that – as we spent the last week or so gathering information about K’amba Carnival.

Admittedly, K’amba Carnival is not a nationwide organization like Canada Post, but the principle is the same. The people behind the two organizations go about their work without fanfare or any claim for glory.

K’amba Carnival is presented each year by K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN), and organized by a committee of about 10 volunteers, supported by the staff of KFN and other volunteers.

We sat in on a committee meeting and heard organizers discuss a wide array of details that had to be decided on and carried through – everything from which band to hire for entertainment to creating a track for dog races on the Hay River.

Nothing happens on its own. Someone has to do it.

Most of the volunteers for K’amba Carnival are members of K’atlodeeche First Nation, which makes the effort even more impressive because they are working to create something to be enjoyed by the Hay River Reserve and the town across the river, along with people from many other communities in the NWT.

While they don’t work for glory, it’s hard not to notice the effort – the K’amba Carnival Committee was the winner in the group category for the 2016 Outstanding Volunteer Awards presented by the GNWT.

And who cannot recognize and honour the efforts of Diane Tourangeau, who helped found the carnival and served as chair of the organizing committee for most of its existence.

The effort of everyone involved is even more impressive when you consider K’amba Carnival has been in existence for 37 years.

Many festivals, carnivals and various other celebrations get nowhere near 37 years before they fade away. That’s often because the founders have moved on – either to some other interest or perhaps out of a community – or the number of people willing to help present an event has dwindled.

Hay River had its own Ookpik Festival, which faded away before the creation of K’amba Carnival. More recently, Fort Smith’s South Slave Friendship Festival ended in 2012 after an impressive run of 24 years, although there was a grassroots attempt last year to revive it.

And still K’amba Carnival keeps rolling along.

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