Monday, November 17, 2008

Amazing Grace

Today was a short day school-wise because of a funeral held this afternoon in the gym (which also doubles as the community hall). Jayko Tunraq was a good man. The Anglican minister asked me if I could play "Amazing Grace" on my trumpet for the service and I agreed to it. I've been to a few northern funerals and they can be pretty intense. The hall was packed. There were easily 250 people there - a little over one-third of the population of Arctic Bay. A few Rangers were there was well as some army cadets. Funerals are something that always make me uncomfortable and truth be told I initially felt a bit awkward. But having played I'm very glad I did it.

Jayko was very well respected in the community. He was well-liked by everyone. He worked for the Hamlet for 33 years driving the town's sewage and water trucks. I remember one time when I had been out of water for a couple of days and I watched as Jayko filled up my tank. I remember shouting "Qujannamiik! Qujannamiik (thank you)" as I ran out the door. Jayko gave me a quick wave and a friendly smile. He seemed to be involved in everything - the local DEA (District Education Authority), the Alcohol Education Committee and the Canadian Rangers. He was also a skilled hunter and spent a great deal of time out on the land. Sadly, he was not that old. Just 61.

I am struck by some poignant words from our Deputy Mayor at the funeral. They have been in my head all afternoon. The hunters that were with Jayko when he died spoke of how, as he breathed his last breath, his thoughts were not of himself, but of his community. It is selflessness like this that I sorely wish was much more evident in my own generation.

Interestingly, I've never learned the Inuktitut word for "good-bye". But I think in this case, it's not necessary - for I know his Spirit lives on still.


Kiggavik said...

Thanks for that Darcy. I had wished I was there today.

Jackie S. Quire said...

Did he pass out on the land?

Way Way Up said...

Clare - It was a touching and heart-felt service, very moving.

Jackie - From what I was told he had some sort of internal troubles he had had for a number of years; it seems fitting that he passed away out on the land doing what he loved to do. He will be greatly missed by many people.