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Party celebrates name change

Chris Woodall
Northern News Services

Holman (Apr 10/06) - On the ice or in the school gym, hamlet residents celebrated in many ways, April 1, to have their hamlet become "Ulukhaktok."

Once named by European explorers after J.R. Holman during the 1853 Inglefield expedition, the Victoria Island hamlet of 420 people voted during December 2005 municipal elections to change their community name back to a traditional one.

Ulukhaktok is the name given to the highest bluff overlooking the community and means "the place where ulu parts are found" in Innuinaqtun because of naturally occurring copper used for these tools.

"Most of the people from the hamlet took part," said Mayor Peter Malgokak of the name change celebrations.

The name change isn't just a switch of a sign at the airport, but has already had an effect on how the community sees itself, the mayor explained.

"Everybody's happy. I think the people are starting to relax and take it easy now that the cultural name is back with the community."

To express that joy, a series of dog team races and games of skill took place on Queen's Bay during the day, followed by jigging and all sorts of dancing at the Helen Kalvak Elihakvik school gymnasium. And, of course, there was a feast.

Even the mayor was fully involved, teaming up with fiddler Colin Adjun from Kugluktuk to encourage foot tapping. As with anything new, although most of the residents speak Innuinaqtun, some differences in accent have made pronouncing Ulukhaktok tricky.

"Some people can't say the 'H,' so they say 'uluk-saktok'," Malgokak said. "As long as they spell it right, that's the main thing."