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INUVIK, NWT. – Canada's notoriously reserved Prime Minister found himself at a community centre in Inuvik, Canada's northernmost incorporated town, Wednesday evening, witnessing a celebration of songs, drums and dance during a stopover on his northern tour.

Inuvialuit performers ranging in age from under ten to over 80 performed traditional songs and dances before a crowd of two hundred or so. At the end, the host invited everyone to join them in a final celebratory dance.

The journalists accompanying Mr. Harper watched intently. Last November, on the set of a popular dance show in Mumbai, India, he had stood uncomfortably as performers swirled around him.

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But this time Mr. Harper got out of his chair, donned calfskin and beaver-fur mittens and stomped his feet and waved his arms with the best of them--at least, the best of those who hadn't a clue what they were doing.

The organizer of the evening "said: 'come on out and we'll have some entertainment for you," the Prime Minister joked afterward. "She didn't say I would be the entertainment."

Next time, maybe they should provide a piano.

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About the Author

John Ibbitson started at The Globe in 1999 and has been Queen's Park columnist and Ottawa political affairs correspondent.Most recently, he was a correspondent and columnist in Washington, where he wrote Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper. He returned to Ottawa as bureau chief in 2009. More

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