Inuvialuit Day Celebrations celebrate 40 years since the signing of the IFA

Filmmaker Dennis Allen at the Inuvialuit Day Celebration in Edmonton on June 5.

by Deena Goodrunning, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – The Inuvialuit Final Agreement was signed on June 5, 1984 between the Government of Canada and the Inuvialuit people. This year, on June 5, there were many Inuvialuit Day Celebrations organized by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation across different cities in Canada, including Edmonton – celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

The day of celebration began at 12:00 pm with opening remarks by the event’s emcee Dennis Allen, an award-winning Inuvialuit filmmaker, musician, song writer and storyteller. After his opening remarks he said a prayer, before inviting attendees to partake in a free lunch.

The lunch included bannock burgers and fries from the well-known Indigenous cuisine restaurant Native Delights. There were also traditional Inuvialuit foods such as muktuk, dried meat, muskox meat and smoked whitefish. There was also a food truck that provided free hotdogs, fries and drinks to community members.

Entertainment for the day included singing performances by Dennis Allen and vocal artist Robert Voudrach. There was also an arctic sports demonstration by James Day Jr, who showcased and spoke about traditional arctic sports games such as the high kick.

It was a festive and sunny day. Inuvialuit members and elders from the community came to the stage to share information on Inuvialuit culture such as sharing words from Inuvialuktun, the language of the Inuvialuit people. Members were also invited to the stage to share their traditional Inuvialuit names with the audience. The event ended with a fun game of musical chairs and a group photo.

After the event ended, Dennis Allen spoke with ANNews about the event and its significance for Inuvialuit people.

“I think the significance is people got together and they saw people that they haven’t seen in a long time. Everybody lives all over the city or outside of town. So this was a chance for people to come together and visit like we used to do a long time ago,” Allen said.

“People used to gather in the summertime or after trapping season. They used to come together for Christmas, Easter. They used to come together and celebrate and dance and sing and have good food. So that’s kind of what this [event] signifies,” Allen continued. “And what brings us all together is 40 years ago we signed a land claim with the federal government and that land claim gave us ownership of certain lands and control over different lands and basically over our own destiny.”

When Allen was asked to clarify if the Inuvialuit are a sub-group of the Inuit people, Allen explained: “The word Inuit is a generic term. It’s sort of like saying First Nations. The Inuvialuit are their own band, their own tribe of people. A distinct tribe from other Inuit groups. So, we all come from the Western Arctic and the six communities in our settlement region. And all these people that were here today were all from those communities.”

When asked if there was anything else he wanted to say about the event, Allen said that it was really good to see relatives and family members he hadn’t seen in years at the event. “You see people that you grew up with that you haven’t seen in years, or you meet their kids and their grandkids. It was really good to meet everybody again. [This event] was a gathering for the Inuvialuit people around the Edmonton area.”

Overall, the “Celebrating our land claim” day was a very joyous and festive day where the Inuvialuit community in Edmonton came together to celebrate the signing of the IFA and enjoy a day of food and celebration and culture with each other.

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