Sunday: Hopedale, Labrador

We thought that the morning would find us already near Hopedale, but there were ice issues in the night, so we had to turn South for a while. During the morning we got to see France Rivet’s film about the Inuit family that was in a European human zoo.  It was very interesting, and very sad.  It makes me wonder what the Smithsonian’s policy is on repatriation of human remains that they have in their collection.  I feel like museums should be proactive about attempting to return those remains to their homelands and people.

After lunch I spent some time on the deck watching the ship navigate the “Hopedale Run” a stretch through some islands, and then spotted the radio antennas of the village and the unique Nunatsiavut Legislative Assembly.  The front looks like an igloo and the back section has similar architecture to the Moravian assembly houses, very straight and European but combining together to make one unit.

On shore, the mayor (a woman) of Hopedale greeted us and told us about the sites we could see. I started at the museum, which showed the history of the native people and the influence of the Moravian missionaries.  Then I went into the church.  The building was built in 1865 and is still in active use as a church today.  Parts of the building are not in good shape, and some hold artifacts from an earlier time while others are in use as Sunday school rooms.  There were men and women from the village selling crafts, seal mittens and boots, knitted and crocheted items and also carvings.  I bought a pair of socks knitted by the Moravian women’s knitting circle, and a crocheted hat in the colors of the Labrador flag.

Ali and I then walked to the local restaurant which was offering three vital things: Cake, tea, and wifi.  There were even a few hotel staff from the ship that had come over to take advantage of this resource.  That’s where I was able to upload some pictures yesterday.

A little farther on was the legislative building.  The floor of the assembly room was labradorite, the seat backs were seal skin, and there was a large polar bear skin on the floor.  Each of the five Nunatsiavut communities elects representative to this assembly.  In another room of the center local high school boys and their coach were showing us games, like seeing who can jump and kick a stick that is held in the air, several types of wresting, including leg wrestling, and a competition to see who can do the most one arm push-ups.  After this showing there was another snack.  This one was smoked Arctic Char.  Very delicious!

A little more walking (the whole area we walked looked to me to be the length of about 4 football fields) took us to the grocery store.  It had lots of frozen meat, very few fresh vegetable and lots of cans of sloppy joe mix (on sale!)  There was also a candy selection where I bought  a Mars bar to serve as my costume for Explorer’s night. (I found a bear hat in the costume bins that were provided, and I renamed it a dog hat so I could be the Mars Rover.  Get it? Not many others did either.)

While we were away the Zodiac dock had deteriorated, but we were escorted down the rocks to another spot and safely made it aboard.  The usual dinner followed on our return, and we ended up sitting at a table with another woman named Eleanor and she was having a birthday.  The staff sang Happy Birthday and brought a cake over.  (This is a good moment to say that the food is excellent but there have been several desserts that seem to be rationing sugar.  Not sure if that is a mistake or a Canadian thing.  Ali and I found it a bit startling, but some of our Canadian friends pronounced it “delicious.”  It is also possible that it is extreme politeness, and of course, we have made no comment either, though I signed up for a galley tour, and I will be eagle eyed for the sugar barrel and the lock thereon.

After dinner the schedule said “Labrador Bluff,” but this was not the rock lecture that I expected, but instead a game where three staff members, Inuit community member Jason, Historian John Major and artist Billy were given a word and they would give a definition. One was telling the truth, and two were bluffing.  We were in teams and had to guess who was telling the truth.  It was very fun, their definitions were very funny, and our team was terrible, only getting 4 of the 10 right.

A final note for the day: as we pulled away from Hopedale, I noticed that as the sun set, the European part of the assembly house faded into the background and all that showed was the white igloo, shining in the darkness.

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