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Preparing for Amundsen

Elders play important role

Kathleen Lippa
Northern News Services

Gjoa Haven (Aug 18/03) - When Anthony Anguttitauruq speaks of Roald Amundsen wintering in Gjoa Haven for two years, you can hear the respect in his voice for the Norwegian explorer, whose ship, the Gjoa, the community is named after.

"We felt it was important and exciting to do something about this historical event," said Anguttitauruq speaking of preparations for the Amundsen celebrations starting Sept. 5 in Gjoa Haven.

In late August, 1903, Amundsen and his crew of six aboard the Gjoa were the first explorers to successfully navigate their way through the Northwest Passage.

Gjoa Haven, a community of 879 people, is now organizing events to welcome the replica of the Gjoa, currently re-creating the original voyage from Oslo.

The replica ship left Oslo in June, and was in Pond Inlet on Aug. 12.

The ship is expected to arrive in Gjoa Haven to much fanfare on Sept. 5.

"The excitement is growing," said Anguttitauruq.

"On local radio some days there is talk of Amundsen celebrations. Hopefully next week there will be more."

The hamlet office has been fielding more calls from groups in Rankin Inlet and Kugaaruk who want to charter planes to be there.

Planning is down to the wire, with $84,500 in funding approved just two weeks ago.

A large portion of that has come from the Government of Nunavut.

"It's not a very large amount," said Anguttitauruq, "but we're hoping to put it to good use towards this event."

The Mayor of Gjoa Haven, Peter Akkikungnaq said elders have played a large role in the planning of the ceremony.

They heard the stories of Amundsen from their parents, and have been consulting with the seven local organizers to make sure the event captures the spirit of Amundsen's journey.

"They are excited about the people coming from outside Gjoa Haven," said the mayor on Thursday.

Anguttitauruq agreed, saying, "They are looking forward to seeing those people. Especially when the Prime Minister's name was mentioned. But I don't know if he's going to come yet."

Anyone who would like to assist the organizers of the Amundsen celebrations in Gjoa Haven can call Raymond Kamookak at 867-360-7141.

"We're looking for any help we can get from anyone," Anguttitauruq said.