Despite having to switch locales entirely for the last day as a result of frozen pipes at the Chief Lamalice Complex, this year’s K’amba Carnival was hailed as a success by its organizers.
“It’s been a good year,” said Doug Lamalice, one of the members of the organizing committee. “There’s been a lot of transparency with the money and we’ve made sure to be telling everyone where all the money is going that we’ve raised.”
The weekend’s events included a handgames tournament, games for adults and kids, the community staple of the Winter Market, along with the annual dog races, the highlight of the carnival. Hundreds of people from the NWT and northern Alberta came to the Hay River Reserve to participate and meet up with old friends.
“We want this carnival to be a happy representation of our culture,” said Lamalice. “We want it to be a happy, healthy, place where you can bring your whole family.”
He said that while there are always games and activities for children, there are always those who wonder why there aren’t more.
This year, the committee decided to step up and create more of a family-friendly atmosphere. Their efforts paid off as people of all ages gathered at the complex, Chief Sunrise Education Centre, and down on the frozen river for the weekend.
Randy Buggins, the organizer of the dog races, said that mushers were coming in from all over the North and from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, too.
“It’s a pretty average year,” he said. “But some of these guys have travelled a long way to be here.”
When he spoke to The Hub, Buggins himself was getting set to compete in the six-dog race later in the day. He said the races are always the most exciting thing about K’amba and he was pleased to be a part of them.
“It’s all about our culture,” said Lamalice. “This should be for everyone in the community and those coming in from elsewhere too. We’ve created a lot of transparency and I think a lot of comfort in the community by opening the doors to everyone.”
Lamalice said the volunteers coming out to help have been tremendous, and that some of the activities had been the best the K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN) had seen in years.
“We had the best drum dance last night we’ve had in a long time,” said Lamalice March 1. “People were out until one in the morning and up dancing for every song, and it was really great.”
Philip Fabian has been drumming at KFN celebrations for many years and said he was proud to have his son – who is also a drummer – in town with his family for the carnival.
“It’s good to see all these people again,” he said. “They’re friends you don’t get to see too often, but when you do, they greet you, shake your hand, and it’s always nice to see friendly people coming back.”