A May 23 sculpin derby has lifted the spirits of many in Pangnirtung as Covid-19 has dampened the mood.

“It was a diversion that was really needed and worked well,” said Daryl Dibblee, the community’s senior administrative officer (SAO).

Willie Attagoyuk, the first prize winner in the adult category, stands between Lynn Kilabuk, left, and Janice Alivaktuk, right. Attagoyuk won $8,000 for his 50 cm sculpin, during Pangnirtung’s sculpin derby on May 23. photo courtesy of Lynn Kilabuk

Annually, Pangnirtung holds a fishing derby for Arctic char and a derby for the spiky-finned, bottom-dwelling sculpin. However due to the Pond Inlet’s false positive case on April 29, and ice conditions the fishing derby was cancelled.

The false positive case “affected people in a way that they really became concerned,” explained Dibblee.

“The whole community got uptight,” said Dibblee, adding “I mean really uptight.”

“I think everybody has an understanding or a feeling if we get a case or cases in Nunavut, there could be a significant spread,” he said.

With hardly any community events since mid-March due to the pandemic, organizers Lynn Kilabuk and Janice Alivaktuk decided to plan the sculpin derby for May 23.

“It felt like a lot of people craved to be out and be part of an event,” said Kilabuk, noting especially the older people.

Nearly 950 people participated in the weekend event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. while adhering to social distancing measures. The hamlet and the local Hunters and Trappers Organization provided about $24,000 in prize money for the event.

As the top winner in the adult category, Willie Attagoyuk took home $8,000 for his 50 cm sculpin. For the kids category, Elaija Michael came in first place with a 48.5 cm fish and received $1,000.

“It was a success and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves despite the wind,” said Kilabuk.

“Everybody was really happy about it,” said Dibblee.

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