Six dedicated teams showcase the importance of preserving traditional Inuit practices
Willie Cain and Itsaja Arnatuk from Tasiujaq topped the podium in Aupaluk after winning the 2023 Ivakkak Dog sled race, with a total time of 38:38:20.
Six teams competed this year after the event was cancelled in 2022 due to COVID concerns. The race began in Kangiqsujuaq on March 15, and after racing a total distance of more than 427 kms, all teams finished in Aupaluk on March 26.
Cain and Arnatuk were joined on the podium by Purvirnituq team Carlos Surusila and Paul Amarualik, who had a total time of 39:00:20, and Kuujuuaq’s Aloupa Kauki and Sheldon Whiteley who clocked a total time of 44:18:19. Fourth place this year went to Ken Labbe and Andrew Gordon of Tasiujaq, fifth to Charlie Angnatuk and Johnny Kritik also from Tasiujaq, and sixth place to Saanti Jaaka and Paulie Kiatainak from Kangiqsujuaq.
Makivvik President Pita Aatami praised the efforts of the mushers and their teams, saying, “Ivakkak was created over 20 years ago, and the first race was held in 2001, marking the start of Makivvik’s Inuit Sled Dog revitalization initiative. We are proud of the work that has gone into bringing the Inuit Sled Dog back to Nunavik, despite the tragic dog slaughters carried out by past governments from the mid-1950s until the late 1960s.”
In a press release, Makivvik acknowledged the determination and dedication of the mushers and their teams who showcased the importance of preserving traditional Inuit practices. The mushers participating in Ivakkak today are following in the footsteps of the early teams that participated more than 20 years ago, and even more importantly, they are following and travelling the trails of their ancestors, using the same method of transportation that they would have used. The hard work and commitment required to raise Inuit dog sled teams are a testament to the deep-rooted cultural significance of the event.
The Ivakkak 2023 race was not just a test of the mushers’ physical and mental endurance. It was also an affirmation of the importance of preserving traditional Inuit practices, including the art of raising and caring for dog sled teams.
All teams were awarded cash prizes ranging from a total purse value of $47,500 to $11,700, and special prizes were given to Charlie Angnatuk and Johnny Kritik for Rookie of the Year, Saanti Jaaka and Paulie Kiatainak for the Sportsmanship Award, and the Traditional Showcase Award, for the team that is most traditionally dressed, was also given to Charlie Angnatuk and Johnny Kritik.
Details of the final standings and prizes can be found on the Ivakkak website at Ivakkak.com.