Friday, May 10, 2013

Hamlet Week in Baker Lake

This past week was Hamlet Week - 5 full days of fun and frivolity to celebrate the hamlet. Schools and the daycare were shut down and my work gave us a half day off to enjoy the festivities if we wanted on Hamlet Day (Monday, May 7).

There have been games, contests, and a square dance every day and the community has been enjoying the nice weather that we've been lucky to have. For instance, right now it's a beautiful -7 degrees, no wind, and big, fluffy flakes of snow gently falling. I feel like we're in a snow globe - and am reminded of how blessed we are to be on this northern adventure!

I wasn't able to slip out of work on Monday afternoon, but a co-worker did and she took some pictures of the festivities for us to share here...

First up, the traditional dress contest was held at the community center. People of all ages (from babies to elders) were encouraged to dress up in traditional wear and the best outfits won a prize! It's amazing to see the intricacies of the outfits and how much creativity abounds!
Look at that BABY! The best part about the outfit? The hood had the actual ears on them. So cute!!

Head to toe in amazing hand-crafted outfits

The jackets with baby pouches is called an "amaut". The woman in red also has the traditional face painting

After the outfits, everyone headed onto the ice for the ice chiseling contest. Each person has long spear-like tools to chip through the ice and the first person to reach water, wins!
First, you dig through the snow and find your perfect spot

Then, you get down there and really start chiseling!

It's not as easy as you would think...

Tada! That ice is THICK!

It took the men about 10 minutes of hard labour to pop through and get to the water, and my co-worker headed back to the office before the women started so I'm not sure how long it took them. Knowing that the ice is that thick makes me feel better walking out there even with 20 trucks and 100 people out there at once...still scary though!

There were lots of other games, and then later in the evening, there was a community feast at the hall as well. You just have to remember to bring your own bowls and utensils when you go to these things. :) Sometimes they have raw caribou and would butcher and serve it up right there, but this feast was big vats of caribou stew.
Help yourself!

After the feast, there were some more games and the square dance - and that was Hamlet Day 2013! The rest of the week has been very similar, with lots of games in the evenings, followed by a dance. There was even supposed to be sled racing, but with the weather melting snow and whatnot, it's been postponed.

It's so nice to see the community come together and celebrate together! One of the perks of living in a small group...can't see all of Toronto getting together and playing dice games every evening for a week. :)


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