Relay completes Arctic leg
Trans Canada Trail vessel reaches Iqaluit

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Iqaluit ( May 22/00) - After a 7,000-kilometre trip that crossed the top of North America, the Trans Canada Trail Relay that left Tuktoyaktuk in February reached Iqaluit May 15.

Paul Ikualluq of Gjoa Haven passed the relay vessel to Premier Paul Okalik, marking the end of the Arctic leg of the relay.

Next month this vessel will meet up with relay participants in Summerside, P.E.I., bearing water from the Atlantic Ocean. This September, water from those two vessels, plus one holding water from the Pacific, will be poured into a fountain in Hull, Que., to officially open the trail.

Other members of the Arctic leg of the relay were Julian Tomlinson of Inuvik, Peter Hardy, Dominic Stubbs and Rob McPhee.

The expedition was co-ordinated by Aurora College. Reports on the trip can be found on the Internet (www.frozentoes.com).

Two weeks ago the relay reached Pangnirtung. On Sunday, May 7, Sheila Veevee went about 20 kilometres outside town to meet the expedition. \Veevee was chosen to carry the vessel into town.

"One of the Rangers gave it to me out there and I took it back to town," Veevee said.

She said it was nice to be part of a national event. Veevee said a large crowd was on hand when they reached town, even though it was nearly midnight. During the ceremonies she read a note handed to her and then gave the vessel to an elder in the community, Jamesie Mike.

Steven Kooneeliusie drove the snowmachine bearing Veevee back to town. He said that after Mike had the vessel, he walked among the people so they could get a good look at it.

Though the hour was late, celebrations continued after the official ceremonies.

"There was lots of people at the tea party," Kooneeliusie said.

Games were held after that.

Veevee said she, along with relay representatives, visited Attagoyuk school the next morning, and that the students were quite interested.

"They hardly had a question, they were just listening."

On May 8 Leetia Alivaktuk carried the relay vessel for about 20 kilometres outside of Pangnirtung, after which relay members continued their trek towards Iqaluit.

However, before the relay officials left Pangnirtung, Kooneeliusie gave each member a photo he had taken of the community.

"They were very happy," he said. "All the people welcomed them from Pangnirtung."