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Traditional dress competition adds flair to National Indigenous People’s Day in Baker Lake

The hamlet of Baker Lake recognized National Indigenous People’s Day with a traditional dress contest for the first time on June 21.

Martha Haqpi took top spot and the $150 prize in the adult category of the traditional dress contest as people celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 in Baker Lake.
Photo courtesy Jimmy Misheralak

Prizes were given out to the top three contestants in both an adults’ category and a kids under-15 category.

Martha Haqpi took top spot and the $150 prize in the adult category, while Cynthia Tunguaq claimed second place ($100) and Micheal Haqpi took third ($75).

The kid’s division saw Bergit Tunguaq claim top spot ($100), while Carlos Taipana took second ($75) and Kyleen Netser claimed third ($50).

Baker recreation co-ordinator Jimmy Misheralak, who took over the position this past January, said the contest was the only activity the hamlet felt comfortable holding with Covid-19 restrictions in place.

He said people who came to see the contest mostly passed by on their machines due to social distancing and a maximum of 25 people being allowed to gather at the same time.

“Everybody’s doing their best to keep following the rules here, so there weren’t too many people standing around the judging area,” said Misheralak.

“There was never really much held here on National Aboriginal Day in the past, but my SAO (Sheldon Dorey) asked me to hold the contest and it worked out pretty well.”

Misheralak said the two big one-day holiday celebrations in Baker Lake have traditionally been Nunavut Day and Canada Day.

He said the community usually goes all out for those two occasions and the hamlet is doing everything it can for this year’s Canada Day celebrations.

“We have plans to do a Canada Day parade around town and we’ve asked people to decorate their vehicles and their ATVs for that. The committee members will take pictures and select the winners who have the nicest vehicles or quads.

“We’re also going to have a truck at the back of the parade from the recreation department and, while the parade is going around town, we’ll be tossing candies out to the community as we go.

“We’ve asked the children to be in different locations, so there’s no more than 25 kids in one area where the candy is being tossed, and we’re also holding a tea-boiling and bannock-making contest for the elders.

“We’re doing our best under trying circumstances to hold as good a Canada Day celebration as we can.”