Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Welcome Ceremony

While we were sailing between Beechey Island and Prince Leopold, we were treated to not only experience, but a thorough explanation of, the traditional Inuit welcome ceremony, performed by Aaju Peter.

The qulliq, a boat-shaped base is used to hold seal-fat, while dried and treated vegetation such as Arctic cotton and peat moss, are used as a wick to light the flame.

Aaju (pronounced AA-you) is an esteemed Canadian who is not only an accomplished artist, musician and clothing designer, but a lawyer, a linguist, and a recipient of the Order of Canada! (Aaju was presented with her membership of the OC by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, in December 2011, in recognition of Voluntary Service - her commitment to fostering the culture and language of the Inuit, and bridging the cultural divide between the people of the Arctic and those from The South).

Diminutive in stature, I felt that Aaju towered over us all. I didn't have much chance to speak to her one-to-one, but the next day when I had the opportunity to thank her for sharing the welcome ceremony with us, I felt an almost-overwhelming urge to bow to her as one would to the Dalai Lama. Her aura of strength, and calm, were inspiring. Her presence is as solid as the towering mountains and cliffs of the Arctic.

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  1. I was at the back of the room and only now better appreciate what I witnessed. Thank you Tanya. I'm itching for the rest of the trip. Aaju is indeed a person of formidable strength.

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