February 26, 2020 – Kangirsuk, Nunavik – Following the unfortunate death of a participant in the Ivakkak Husky Dog race early yesterday morning, all teams, support crew and race organizers gathered in Kangirsuk. The mushers met in private and decided to continue the race. Ivakkak 2020 will resume on Thursday morning, February 27th.
The musher who passed away was 24-year old Willia Qullialuk of Kangiqsujuaq, who is originally from Akulivik. It is still too early to communicate the cause of death, however we know that it was not a racing accident that lead to this unfortunate death. The body will be sent for autopsy and we will await further details.
Makivik Corporation’s Vice-President of Economic Development – Maggie Emudluk – oversees the annual Ivakkak Race. She said, “First, I would like to give my deepest condolences to Luuku Qullialuk, mother of Willia, her immediate family, relatives, and to his girlfriend in Kangiqsujuaq. There has never been an incident like this in all years since Ivakkak started in 2001. The mushers and their support crew had an emotional meeting together in Kangirsuk last night. They prayed together, talked together and decided together to continue with the race on Thursday morning. We also spoke with Willia’s mother who was in Akulivik, late in the evening. She gave the blessing for the race to continue in memory and honour of her son. She and her husband said they would like to be at the finish line in Kangiqsualujjuaq in a couple weeks to see the mushers arrive and celebrate the memory of their son.”
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family and all those affected.
Director of Communications
Makivik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivik’s role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.