During each Easter Spring Break communities along the coast celebrate with what they call “Easter Games.”
These Easter Celebrations first started in the community of Makkovik, where surrounding homesteads such as Bens Cove, Adlavik, or Island Harbour would travel to Makkovik for the annual Easter Moravian Church services. During this time the community would have an organized shooting match, and or a soccer game for the community members to have some friendly competition.
It later turned into a dog team race and other traditional races such as the snowshoe running race. These games then became an every year tradition around the 1970’s where other people from communities such as Postville and Hopedale would travel to take part. Back then the Easter Games consisted only of Dog Team races, target shooting, snowmobile races, and traditional games such as the snowshoe running race.
John Andersen of Makkovik said that the Easter Games are a huge attraction for the community and the whole harbour (where the games were held) would be full of people participating and cheering each other on.
“ I can remember when I was around 17 years old going in the dog team race and there being over twenty-nine dog teams lined up on the harbour,” he said.
At that time, the prize would usually consist of food such as a sack of flour, a case of butter, a case of milk or salt beef and pork. The top five contestants would get a prize.
Today, these celebrations are the main event of the long Easter Break that these coastal communities have.
Each community has their own “style” for their events. For instance the community of Nain this year started their Easter events on Wednesday, Apr. 20 and will not finish until Tuesday May 3. Events are taking place each day, on and off the harbour.
The events each community have are scheduled around the Easter Church Services but these days, instead of winning food, there is prize money involved and games are a little less traditional to the Inuit lifestyle.
Each town has separate children and adult events and the whole community can take part. There are still the traditional events such as the dog team races, target shooting and a Labrathon but there is a modern spin on some events. For instance, in Makkovik, the men take part in the upside down reverse piggyback race or the boardwalk.
These celebrations are a wonderful way to get outside, enjoy the company of friends and take part in a little friendly competition where the activities are for everyone. Each community has there own committee working hard to keep these events up and running and without their hard work and dedication from the organizers and volunteers it would not the success it is today.
If there is something you would love to add to your bucket list, a trip to take part in a northern Labrador Easter Games Week is a must.