Nunavik: The kiteski paradise

Nunavik Kite Ski Paradise                        

Inuit youth reclaiming their land
By Guillaume Roy

Featured in Above & Beyond July / August 2013

With eight-month long winters and ice as far as the eye can see, Nunavik is a kiteskiing paradise for those willing to give it a shot. Over the past seven years, over 1,500 people have learned to kite – ski in 15 communities in Nunavik and Nunavut. And more keep coming.

At the northernmost Quebec village, a light snow sweeps across as strong northern winds blow at 40km/h. Snow has been falling all night and 15 cm of fresh packed snow covers the bay. Blue, red, white, green and yellow forms are speeding up left and right in the Ivujivik bay. Looking closer, one can see skiers being pulled by colourful kites flying around. It’s a spectacular sight for the curious villagers who barely knew what kiteskiing was just a few days prior.

They better get used to it because when you begin to kiteski, it completely changes the way you see the world. Every time the wind blows, it makes you wonder if it is strong enough to ride. It turns on a brain connection that makes you crave to go out on your skis and ride as fast as the wind can pull you. It happens to me every time and I am always impressed how fast people become addicted to kiteskiing.

“It’s too much fun to miss. I don’t want to waste good wind anymore. Before, I thought that on a nice day, there should be no wind. I now despise those nice days,” says Aulla Qaunnaaluk, only five days after he first learned how to kite. No wonder why alianattuk, which means fun, was one of the first Inuktitut words I learned after anuri (wind).

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