For Miki O’Kane, the community Christmas concert makes her holidays.
“Just to look around when we’re singing together and see everyone singing together is hard to explain,” said O’Kane, who has been helping lead the concert’s organization for the last number of years.
“It’s what I call spirit. It’s an intangible feeling of joy that I get and I think some others get, hopefully a lot of others get, just from being there and raising our voices together in that beautiful space.”
Each year, Inuvik has been gathering in the Our Lady of Victory Church, better known as the Igloo Church, to join in about two hours of songs and sing-alongs.
The event began in 1984, spurred by high school vice-principal Roy Menna. That led to the creation of the Inuvik Choral Society, which became the Inuvik Choral and Theatrical Society, who put on productions in the old Finto Motor Inn.
That group has since disbanded as most of the members have left, but the community concert has lived on. O’Kane got involved in its organization in the 1990s.
“It evolved into an annual thing,” she said.
The event is entirely volunteer-run, with donations of advertising and supplies from various organizations around town. The economic downturn in Inuvik hasn’t yet impacted the concert, which always packs the church.
“It’s all been (a volunteer effort), so there has really been no cost,” said O’Kane. “As long as people will give their muscle and their time and their will, the economy hopefully won’t impact it. All the more reason to get together and have a joyful event – we need it!”
She said it’s important to have Inuvialuit and Gwich’in elders sing songs in their languages, as well as young children and anyone else interested in town.
“For many of us, what Christmas is about is the birth of Christ,” said O’Kane. “It’s just a great opportunity for fellowship in the community, regardless of their belief or non-belief. It doesn’t matter. Just to be together to have a joyful time together is what it’s about. For me, it’s really what makes my Christmas.”
She hopes to see another packed house for this year’s concert, scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Igloo Church.