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Arviat readies for square dance showdown

Second annual George Hapanak Memorial Nov. 10-13
George Haapanaaq was a lover of square dance. Covid restrictions delayed the event for a couple of years, but the organizing committee of the second annual George Haapanaaq Memorial Square Dance championship is excited to bring it back to Arviat from Nov. 10-13. Photo courtesy of Hannah Muckpah

“The darn Covid held us down in neutral for two years,” says Hannah Muckpah, but she and her committee are excited to bring back the second annual George Haapanaaq Memorial Square Dance competition in Arviat from Nov. 10-13.

The event dates back to 2016, when the organizing committee formed to create a memorial square dance competition for Philip Kigusiutnak, an Elder who learned to square dance late in life and loved it. Square dances under Philip’s name were held in 2017 and 2018.

For family reasons, the name of the competition was changed to Muckpah’s step-brother before the 2019 event, which became the first annual George Haapanaaq Memorial Square Dance.

“He adored and loved square dancing and he himself participated in the event,” says Muckpah about her late brother-in-law George, who passed away due to medical issues.

Organizers will be hiring judges to do all the point calculations, and there will be some big prizes up for grabs, including $10,000 for the first-place team.

“We tried to jump up the prizes,” says Muckpah, adding that medals and trophies have been ordered too.

So far, teams from Arviat and Rankin Inlet are registered, and Muckpah is hoping to see a team from Whale Cove too.

Rankin Inlet has some good history in this particular event as well, as it was a youth team from the Kivalliq capital that won the 2019 edition.

“It’s always great to see other people and their great talent,” Muckpah says.

Muckpah especially hopes that everything can run smoothly and that there are no injuries.

Registrations will be open until the end of October for any other interested teams.