Was it a bird, a plane, superman with large wings? Nope, those things you may have seen in the sky last April around Chisasibi, Wemindji or Waskaganish were para-skiing kites, other wise known as powerkites. A group of 12 skiers including Wasksaganish’s own Aaron Blackned completed the trip that began in Chisasibi and ended three days later in Wemindji.
Event organizer Pierre Dunnigan says that although the sport is mainly a hobby for him, there were other reasons for doing the trip. “We had two major goals, one was to visit the community and the school, to get introduced to the kids. We did a two-part presentation: building kites with recyled paper and string: the second part was to show them the actual kites that we were using, the powerkites. We have them outside and they fly their own kites and then we show them ours. They can try ours, they will wait in line for an hour to have the chance and they love it. Then (the second goal) we wanted was to do some long distance kiting along the bay, to be able to stop where ever we wanted.”
One of their other goals was to have a local student with them. There is a type of powerkite that is relatively easy to master, it can be done in a one-day training period. This allows newcomers to make a long trip like this. Aaron Blackned was sitting in his secondary 3 class when the principal told them about the opportunity to do something really challenging. Blackned was the first to put up his hand and thus was chosen to go.
He confirmed that it was indeed a challenge, but that it was like flying a kite. “It was hard on the ice,” he said, “hard to keep the kite in the air, hard to keep myself on the ground for the first couple of days, but then I got a hang of it.”
Blackned liked it so much that he may take a trip to Montreal this summer to visit the kite factory.
As for Dunnigan, he is already planning another trip to James Bay next year. Photos and information on para-skiing kites can be found at www.kitezone.ca.