There is a town far, far in the north by the name of Inuvik. It lies near the northwestern border of the Northwest Territories and, like many of the other communities north of the Arctic circle, its inhabitants eke out lives in conditions far harsher than those experienced by their southern countrymen and women. The community averages low winter temperatures of -30°C, though fierce winds have taken the mercury as low as -67°C. For the last thirty days or so, Inuvik has been shrouded in near total darkness as the earth’s axis leans it away from the sun.
But today, the light returns to Inuvik.
Today, and for the rest of this weekend, the town’s inhabitants take the the streets for their annual Sunrise Festival, celebrating the first sunrise in over a month. The event has brought people together since 1988 to celebrate the light, and there is an abundance of ways to do just that. Local food, dance, music, and winter activities like snow carving and snowmobiling take place across the town and a giant bonfire and fireworks display keep locals warm on Saturday night.
All of which we find truly inspiring. To us, Inuvik represents a true triumph of the human spirit; it represents all that we can do when we are pushed to our limits, together. The welcome return of a ray of light after a long, cold darkness shows us our capacity for resilience. In the cheerful, goodhearted revival of spirt and the rebirth of another year under the sun, Inuvik and its inhabitants remind us to be thankful for what we have. To be good to one another. To cherish the little things that make us whole and make us human.
The light at the end of the tunnel reminds us to look for the guiding flame even when things seem at their darkest. The dawn at the end of a long night reminds us that our time on this swiftly tilting planet is not destined for perfection–nor should it be. Instead, Inuvik turns its face into the sun today, nourished by its healing power, but, perhaps, all the more secure in the knowledge that in its absence they still endured. And flourished. As they always, year in and out, again and again.
It is a new year for all of us. But the light has returned to Inuvik; some would say that it never left.