Monica Nuqinga spent her Victoria Day long weekend living and sleeping on Iqaluit’s sea ice.
She, along with more than a thousand other participants, was hoping to catch the longest fish as part of the third annual Iqaluit Cod Derby.
The effort paid off on Monday evening when Nuqinga was named the winner for the fish she caught early Saturday morning.
“I’m just shocked, I’m speechless,” she said, holding her 36.9-centimetre catch. “I camped on the ice since Friday.”
Spending all day and night outside, Nuqinga described the derby as a “beautiful vacation.”
Organizers spent the weekend checking on her and the other participants who made camp, to ensure they all had what they needed out on the ice.
Nuqinga was awarded a new snowmobile — a prize she’s excited to share with her grandkids.
“I’m more happy for my grandchildren, they’ll be so happy,” she said.
“I just want to say thank you to the cod derby volunteers.”
The competition opened May 19 and ran through the weekend. Some people parked on the causeway and walked out to sea, while others ventured out far with their snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and sleds.
Organizers said participants caught more than 640 fish, much more than the 90 that were caught last year.
“It’s heartwarming to know that there was over a thousand people fishing this weekend,” said organizer Malaiya Lucassie.
With such a large turnout, Lucassie said the derby will be held again next Victoria Day long weekend.
“The people of Iqaluit give us a lot of words of encouragement, so we’ll be doing it again next year,” she said.
“It’s a good investment and a great weekend and just overall amazing for the support that we received from everyone.”
Other communities also held their fishing derbies over the long weekend.
In Arviat, an ATV was up for grabs for the winner of the fishing derby there. In Rankin Inlet, community members participated in a “mini” cod derby.
By Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on May 23, 2023 at 12:53