DAY FIFTEEN -- Gjoa Haven
The people of Gjoa Haven welcomed our on-board Inuit singers as if they were rock stars. Come to think of it, they ARE rock starts. Susan Aglukark has an international reputation and following, so the screaming was no surprise. But young Kelly Fraser was also accorded a tumultuous reception. This happened in the gymnasium at the high school, and it was wonderful to see. Joyous and moving. Some staffers, not mentioning any names, and certainly not confessing, found themselves wiping away tears.
Before the show, about half the voyagers trekked out to the hilltop memorial dedicated to Roald Amundsen, who spent two winters here while becoming the first explorer to navigate the Northwest Passage from one end to the other. Those years: 1903-06.
Amundsen stayed in Gjoa because he was taking readings to locate the North Magnetic Pole, and mounds on the hill overlooking the town indicate where he built observation stations.
Passengers appreciated displays of traditional Inuit ways. Several bought carvings, and Mari-Hill Harpur was thrilled to purchase a stone bear after talking with the artist and his family. For some, seeing old friends was a major highlight of the visit, and in my case, getting to share a few laughs with Louie Kamookak, Inuk historian and fellow traveller, proved memorable. I keep insisting that he's an elder now, but he denies it. Says he's not old enough. Capturing all this on camera: Sheena Fraser McGoogan.