Kimmirut Club News

Kimmirut kids ride with the wind

March 28, 2008
Kimmirut kids ride with the wind
“Inuit learn in half the time”


KIMMIRUT - A small crowd of children marvel as Peter Qisiiq races across the frozen bay on cross-country skis, pulled by a harness attached to a big kite.

He hits a snow hummock and launches into the air. "Whoah," says one kid. "He's fast," says another.

Qisiiq, who is from Kangiqsujuaq, has practiced paraskiing, also known as kite skiing, for several years now. That's why the kids call him "the expert."
Guy Laflamme teaches kids in Kimmirut to paraski on Wednesday, March 19.

Each kid in Kimmirut's school will also have a chance to try to paraski this week. The lessons are offered by Guy Laflamme, a Montreal man who earns a living designing web sites, but spends his spare time dreaming up ways to spread his enthusiasm for paraskiing across Nunavik and Nunavut.

Laflamme says the kids he teaches are naturals. "Inuit learn in half the time," he says.

He figures there's no shortage of the two key ingredients needed to paraski in all the communities he visits. There's lots of snow, and lots of wind.

"Paraskiing is a perfect tool," he says.

All they're missing are skis, kites and harnesses. That, and a group of committed people to start a club.

It's the second year he's visited Kimmirut. This year, he plans to leave paraskiing equipment behind. He hopes a club will grow here, as has happened in Kangiqsujuaq, Qisiiq's home town.

For Kangiqsujuaq, paraskiing may even help draw tourists into a new provincial park established outside town.

The park is home to Pingualuit, a crater lake sometimes called "the crystal eye of Nunavik." Motor vehicles are banned near the crater to protect the lake's unusually pure waters.

Paraskiing would be a perfect way to visit the crater during the spring, suggests Laflamme.

But whether paraskiing sticks in Kimmirut remains to be seen.

To begin with, who will care for the equipment? Kimmirut's recreation coordinator is out of town. Meanwhile, the kites are both expensive and probably easy to wreck.

Past interest has been fleeting. Billy Akavak, a teaching assistant at the school, bought a paraski last year. He used it a few times to ski around the bay, but this is the first time he's used them this year.

Then there's that thing that Qisiiq got his lines all tangled up in: a snowmobile, parked near the pack of kids.

Paraskiing offers a great physical workout and an eco-friendly alternative to burning fossil fuels. But it's hard to compete against the convenience offered by a snowmobile.

Laflamme remains optimistic. After Kimmirut, he's off to Pangnirtung, then Kuujjuaq.

He knows that his dream of paraskiing clubs operating across the North won't happen overnight. He says he's giving himself 10 years.

Kite-skiing in Kimmirut

Kimmirut youth learn to para-ski on the ice just outside the hamlet. - Karen Mackenzie/NNSL photo -


Kite-skiing in Kimmirut

Karen Mackenzie
Northern News Services
Published Monday, March 31, 2008

Lake Harbour - Kids in Kimmirut can continue building their kite-skiing skills with the founding of a new club in their community.

A handful of sails brightened the winter skies earlier this month as Qaqqalik school students learned the sport, which involves skiing across the ice under the power of the wind.

Guy Laflamme - founder of Kunoki, a group promoting physical activity in the North - visited the hamlet to teach youth and train two local instructors: Billy Akavak and Noah Kootoo.

Akavak was introduced to it last year, during Laflamme's first trip to the community.

"I went down every day, and when they were leaving, they were selling some of their kits and skis so I bought a set," Akavak said.

This time, Laflamme is leaving eight sets of skis and sails behind, enough material to start up a youth club, according to Akavak.

"They loved it. Some of the kids were down there every day, and as soon as they learned, some were teaching other kids how to do it," he said.

The interest and the aptitude are definitely there. Kids like Grade 6 students Jamie Aqpik and Brian Kolola took to the ice like pros, zipping back and forth in the windy weather.

"It's easy, you've just got to practice. I love going faster, turning left and right," Aqpik said.

Kolola also caught on quickly, speeding back and forth across the ice within minutes of strapping on the skis.

"I play hockey, that might have helped, and I go snowboarding," he explained.

The boys' teacher, Scott Follett, spent some time wrestling with the sail in the wind along with his class. Although thwarted by a lack of ski boots in his size, Follett said he planned on ordering his own to stay involved with the sport.

"It really gives the kids another positive hobby to do with their spare time, something constructive to do on the weekends," he said.

He was accompanied by Peter Qisiiq of Nunavik, where the sport has also become increasingly popular.

Akavak and Kootoo plan to travel to Kangirsuk, Que., to compete in a race this April.

Laflamme and Qisiiq have now arrived in Pangnirtung, where they will hold a similar course.

Kimmirut Initiation Camp

We encountered perfect snow and wind conditions during this week long initiation camp. A number of factors contributed to the success of the Camp including enthusiastic participation from the school's teachers and students making clinics extremely fun and productive. Local young adults were particularly interested in and excited about this new activity, and with growing interest from other community members, we held an impromptu evening clinic for adults only. During our stay, we were lucky enough to explore one nearby lake and take a ride on the ice bank to the flow edge - a must for riders attracted by the Arctic wilderness. Kimmirut has certainly shown its potential to develop top riders and trainers as well as an exceptional snow park, its true potential still to be discovered.  more pictures...  

 Meeting with a dynamic and organized team
As we left Iqaluit in a Twin Otter aircraft for Kimmirut we had a nice close-up view of the mountains and the plateau. Upon arrival we were greeted by Lloyd, a French Canadian from Valleyfield, Quebec, the home of Paraski Flex. Lloyd helped us store our cargo and then took us on a tour of the village. The next morning we met with Erin Gordey, the Community Economic Development Officer and the person responsible for organizing our trip and the Camp, as well as Jamiesie, the newly appointed recreation coordinator, and teachers Pascal and Larry. We were then introduced to Rangers Matto and Kooyoo who would spend the week with us. After setting up the cargo in the kamutik and installing the first Snow Park sign near the main access to the bay, we rode down less than a kilometer to find the perfect spot for the initiation camp. Once the tent was set up, we gathered together to discuss the program for the week under the attentive eye of Kimmirut community member, Joannie, before going out for a test drive. more pictures... 
Enthusiastic school classes raising sails and smiles
Throughout the week, each of the teachers brought their classes to the snow park. Kooyoo and Matto were extremely busy. They taxied the teachers and students on and off the bay with the kamutik, actively participated in teaching the youngest children, and provided additional security in this area well know for its polar bears. As our team grew, we were able to introduce 25 to 30 people each day to kite skiing. Whether the wind was blowing at 10 kilometers per hour or 40 kilometers per hour, everyone learned to fly a Paraski and had an amazing experience. Even the smallest participant in Cristina's class - a nine-year old, 60 pound child - was able to handle, and enjoy, these easy going sails.
Class of Pascal ...more pictures...    
Class of Larry ...more pictures...  
Class of Cristina ...more pictures...  

Fishing, and riding in deep snow on Soper Lake
Kimmirut smiles
On Wednesday the wind was coming in straight from the north, a difficult angle for our position on the bay. We packed the equipment into the two kamutits and went to nearby Soper Lake. As we arrived, the wind died down so Matto quickly began digging a hole for a spur-of-the-moment cod fishing lesson. A few of us took turns digging and shuffling the ice in order to get through almost four feet of ice. Under the supervision of Matto, Alain promptly caught his first "Arctic" fish. As we fished, the wind began to pick up, enough that all Kan's classes were able to enjoy Kite Skiing on the foot-deep snow. And for Alain, the 20 kilometer per hour wind gave him the necessary thrust to power him up the nearby mountains, enabling him to get airborne on a few occasions on his way down - a perfect ending to his day! more pictures...  

An evening for adults only!

Billy in KimmirutTuesday, after a full day with three elementary classes visiting us, and interest quickly building throughout the community, we developed an impromptu evening session to accommodate those who were working during the day. From seven to nine thirty in the evening, members of the community were invited to experience kite skiing. Helped by a gentle wind, perfect for novice skiers, we soon witnessed some good riding skills and talented people on skiis and snowboards. more pictures...  

Flow edge, an interesting ride for adrenaline driven visitors

Kimmirut Floe EdgeHaving completed a successful morning with two clinics for school classes, Friday afternoon saw wind gusts reach 50 kilometres per hour. We took this opportunity to ride down wind toward the flow edge - an even more appealing prospect once Kooyoo proposed bringing us back, saving us a difficult climb back against the wind. What a treat! Kooyoo followed us on his snowmobile with the kamutik, making sure we knew the road to take between the islands and the ice walls. 
Riding this frozen water arm at average speeds of 40 to 50 kilometres per hour and gliding along the ice sleeves formed by the ice walls on both sides carved by the 37 feet tide, we enjoyed a 13 kilometer ride that slowly opens up to larger ice fields surrounded by small islands. Near the flow edge, the ice bank gets very wide and offers kilometers of effortless riding in this strong steady wind. The only thing that prevented us from riding further was the knowledge that this was polar bear fishing ground. Once we reached the flow edge we could see the ice had already begun breaking up as the skidoo trail continued right into the water. It was April 19 on the open water of the Hudson Straight, toward Kangiqsujuaq. We could see a big iceberg drifting past, and on the shore the fresh bear paw prints reminded us of how fortunate we were to have the security of a Canadian Ranger with us. Thanks Kooyoo for the ride back home! more pictures...  

Special thanks to:
  • The people in Kimmirut for their enthusiastic participation and positive energy. 
  • The school teachers for their coordinated and supportive participation.
  • First-Air Staff and Ken Borek for their support and assistance, ensuring the safe arrival of our important cargo. 
  • The Kimmirut Hamlet, specifically Erin Gordey and Jamiesie Judea.
  • The Canadian Rangers, specifically Kooyoo and Matto, for their daily assistance and their cooperation and collaboration with camp activities. 
  • David Fulgham at Qikiqtaaluk Information Technology Corporation (QITC) for the Internet access. 
  • Stephanie at the Kimmirut Inn for her delicious meals.
by Guy Laflamme
Guy Laflamme

Kimmirut Instructor camp

On our second visit to Kimmirut we have set the week with the objectives to train two instructors and start a local clubs.  Upon arrival, with Peter Qisiiq from Kangiqsujuaq as support instructor, we meet with Will Steger and teammates leaving for the second half of the Défi Qimualaniq 2008 dogsled race Iqaluit-Kimmirut-Iqaluit organized by l’Association des francophones du Nunavut. For Mr Steeger and teammates, the race was a final training camp before their expedition on Elsmere Island. To find out more about Global Warming and follow the Will Steger Expedition, check the links below.

Local kids rapidly took advantage of powerful afternoon winds to show their wind riding skills. Well coordinated with local teachers of the Qaqqalik School, we were able to train again some students in windy and snowy days. The new local club and instructors Billy Akavak and Noah Kootoo also received the attention of the journalist in town for the race. View pictures
News North, Karen Mackenzie Kite-skiing in Kimmirut 
Nunatsiaq News, John Thompson Kimmirut kids ride with the wind
Will Steger Foundation
Global-warming 101