For Tara Day and Christine Sydney, organizing Inuvik’s Inuvialuit Day celebrations for the second straight year has only made them more proud of their cultural heritage.
“It was something that I always wanted to do, to always be part of the IRC and part of the fun,” said Sydney, who works as the executive assistant at the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC).
“I love doing this kind of stuff, especially for our corporation,” added Day, who serves as the communications coordinator for the IRC.
This year marks 35 years since the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement on June 5, so the two said that they want to go the extra mile with this year’s celebrations.
“We amped it up a bit. We want to make the 35th anniversary a big one,” said Sydney. “It’s a momentous occasion. It’s a big stepping stone to show the success of the IRC.”
T-shirts, sunglasses, ball caps and berry picking pails are just some of the items that will be distributed for free to Inuvialuit beneficiaries in communities across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.
Wallace Goose awards will also be given out to Elders as a way of honouring and recognizing the many contributions that they have made to their communities.
“They were the frontier. They were the ones who really pushed for the Inuvialuit to be recognized and have this final agreement. To be able to say thank you to them is very important,” said Sydney.
The duo have also arranged for festivities to take place at Chief Jim Koe Park for the second straight year, a practice that had been discontinued in 1994.
“We’re over the moon happy. It’s a little overwhelming right now because it’s happening next week, but I feel so much pride,” said Sydney.
The day will begin with a prayer and the the singing of the national anthem, followed by a luncheon that will consist of bison burgers, hot dogs, muktuk, rabbit, muskrat and more.
In addition to drum dancing and Northern Games demonstrations, three Inuvialuit singers are also scheduled to perform before the crowd.
“I hope a large number of the community comes out – in each community. I hope everyone gets to come out and I hope we have amazing weather too,” said Day.
The two said that they hope that community members come away with a sense of pride from the event.
“35 years is nothing to balk at. We’re a successful corporation. To be able to celebrate the 35th anniversary is unbelievable,” said Sydney.
She added that while it’s a day of celebrations, they still have a job to do.
“We don’t get the day off. It’s our day to let the Inuvialuit beneficiaries – as a whole – enjoy the day. It’s up to us to let them enjoy their time,” she said.
Day praised her fellow IRC colleagues for their their willingness to help out with the organization process, specifically mentioning IRC chair and CEO Duane Smith for his support.
“You could also see the sense of pride, and how much Duane – you know how busy his plate is…If we needed support, they were there for us,” she said. “If we needed anything, they were there. No matter how busy they are, they’re there for you. They’re never too busy for you.”