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Administrative assistant a cultural force

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 18, 2012

The Aklavik Sing-a-long group is travelling to Inuvik next week and Faith Gordon will be one of their enthusiastic numbers.

NNSL photo/graphic

Faith Gordon, second from left, stops for a photo with Michelle Gruben, left, Winnie Gruben, centre, and Shayla Arey, right, on a trip to Tuktoyaktuk to see Prime Minister Stephen Harper last summer. Gordon's volunteer work in Aklavik often requires travel to other communities in the Beaufort-Delta. - NNSL file photo

"We go travelling quite often," said Gordon. "In the summertime we travel by boat, in the wintertime we travel by truck.

"We also perform lots in Aklavik, when there's a death in the community or other events that they ask the sing-a-long group to go to ... and we usually perform at Joe Greenland for the elders."

Gordon's day job is as an administrative assistant for the Hamlet of Aklavik and she often helps with administrative work for the motor vehicle office. However, both positions represent only a fraction of Gordon's commitment to working for her community and her culture.

Gordon has three other volunteer jobs that contribute in large part to the success of three major cultural groups in Aklavik.

Outside of her work at the hamlet, Gordon volunteers as both the secretary/treasurer and a singer for the Aklavik Sing-a-long Group, an organizer for the Shingle Point Summer Games, and an organizer for the Aklavik Drummers and Dancers.

Gordon said she became involved in the sing-a-long group and the drummers and dancers as an adult, and found the more she volunteered, the more involved she wanted to be.

The work, she said, is very rewarding, particularly when youth are engaged and learning about their traditions.

"The drum dance is important because we're losing our elders and we need to keep our traditions alive," said Gordon. "That's how we're trying to teach the youth. It's coming along pretty good. We were very surprised one night when we heard the youth singing some songs by themselves.

"It's very rewarding. It's good to know they're learning."

Gordon's responsibilities certainly keep her busy. All three groups have garnered attention from other regions in the NWT and the two performing groups have travelled to other provinces or territories in Canada.

Last year, the Aklavik Drummers and Dancers even performed in the United States of America, at the Kivqiq Dance Festival in Barrow, Alaska.

Gordon said her current focus will shift in a few weeks to preparations for the Shingle Point Summer Games where she organizes fundraising events, orders prizes and distributes donation letters to businesses and organizations in the region.

She said the summer games are an opportunity for the community to come together and have some summer fun.

"The big event is the kipotuk game, that's ring-toss in English, that's the one that everybody looks forward to," Gordon said.

"We also play ... small games like foot races and dizzy stick, three-legged race, things like that."

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