Karen Yip has been involved in Baker Lake’s Festival by the Lake since its origins in 2015.
“We were interested in promoting healthy activities,” said Yip, now community wellness coordinator for Baker Lake, about the inspiration for the annual community celebration.
This year’s in the first weekend of September saw hundreds come out to enjoy days of activities, shows and games. Those included bouncy castles, jigging contests, magic shows, Sleepy the Clown, teen dances, face painting, fireworks and more.
“This year we were encouraging volunteerism,” said Yip. “We had some great help from the Junior Canadian Rangers. They just formed not too long ago and they were more than willing to come and help us out. That was really great because the volunteers were instrumental to making the festival happen.”
Their involvement was also an opportunity to provide some mentorship, said Yip, teaching the junior rangers about crowd control, inventory and security. The youth also entertained the community with some ranger drills.
“It was a great event,” said Yip. “We had entertainers come in, we had local people entertain us. It was a really great community-building event. We had lotos of participation from people in our community, and lots of fun for the kids.”
It was almost an international event, she said, with an entertainer coming all the way from Oklahoma for it.
“One of the highlights for me was we had Inuit throatsinging and drum dancing demonstrations,” said Yip.
Even Elders came up to dance.
“Some of the Elders you don’t see very often,” said Yip. “Some of the Elders have physical limitations and have challenges walking and things like that, but a lot of them got up there and it was really special.”
Charles Lauder, known as Sleepy the Clown, returned to Baker Lake for the second year in a row to participate.
“The energy and warmth of the children and people here is amazing and wonderful,” he said. “A few faces I recognized from last year, gave it my all and crashed hard Monday night. Felt honoured to be a part of the community feast, sitting with the Elders and first time eating caribou.”
Every year, the festival has been different. Yip said it was her goal early on to provide entertainment that people didn’t see all the time. That was the inspiration behind “Nunavut’s first zipline” in 2017 and hot air balloons in other years. She was especially thankful for all the volunteer help, plus the showings of Inuit Broadcasting Corporation footage and 15 caribou for the feast.
“It’s been evolving,” said Yip, adding that the event was held off during the Covid years. “It was really nice this year to have so much help because it enabled us to do so much more.”
Yip said the festival was made possible with the support of the hamlet, Agnico Eagle Mines, Ookpik Aviation, Northern Store, hamlet arena staff, fire department, MLA Craig Simailak, Mayor Richard Aksawnee and much more.