HALLU INUIT. INUIN NAAMMAINNAQTUT IQALUKTUUTIAMI. UMIAT TIKIQATTAQTUT AKJAHUTIK NIQIHANIKLU TAMAJANIKLU IKLULIUHANIKLU AKHALUTITLU. QUANA TIKINMATA NAKUJUMIK. HIKUIGAGNAT INUIN QAJAQTUJUKTUT. HILA NIGLALIKMAT QANIRALINNIAQMIJUK NUNAKPUT. IQALUKHIUKTUT QUANAA TAHIKJUAMI. TINGMIAK AUDLAQQATTAJUKTUK TAVUNGNA AKJAQHUTIK IQALUKNIK TUNIJUHAK NIQIQAKVIKMUN. TINGMIAK TUHAKNAQQIVAKTUK UPLANNUAMI. ALIANAQ. ILLAA INUIN NAAMMAINNAQTUT. NUTAQQAT ILIHAKTUT NAAMMAINNAQTUTLU. QUVIAHUINNAQTUT ILLAA. QUANA. KINGNEKTAKLU NAVALINNUAQLU NAAMMAINNAQTUTLU EDMINTINMI. TAPKUAT AANIAQTUT NAGUHITTAVUT.

Lighting the qulliq using seal fat was the way to keep warm and cook in the iglu, today used in ceremonies to keep the history of the way Inuit lived in the past. Here is Pihoak tending to the qulliq, behind her is, from left, Ann Wingnek, in the back is Pihoak’s daughter Eva Ayalik, Mabel Etetok, Annie Atighioyak, Kakolak Avadluk, Marla Limousin and Gwen Otokiak-Tikhak. Navalik Tologanak/NNSL photo

Welcome to fall time weather, don’t know what happened to spring and summer and now snow will return a little early this year. Every fall our fishermen head out to do their last commercial fishing of Arctic char from our great lakes and rivers around Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Arctic char is one of our famous food right fresh from the land and very healthy.

Cambridge Bay will always be known as our little fishing village. I was born and raised at the old town, it was quiet, no snowmobiles and vehicles, only dog teams outside tents and igluit. I remember hearing dogs bark when we saw Inuit walking from other camps on the island and mainland. This is how our ancestors survived.

As time went on more and more outsiders were coming to Ikaluktutiak to set up the U.S. air force base, RCMP, Hudson’s Bay Company post, Anglican and Roman Catholic missionaries; when the federal government began sending in radio operators along came nurses and doctors and then teachers.

This was the beginning of learning English and earning a small wage. Soon children began going to school in the new town site and small public houses were being built.

Cost of living was no struggle back then, prices of food was introduced when HBC began fur trading so that our ancestors could get food and supplies to live on.

Shortly after all this was coming fast to our people, children began being sent away to attend residential school far away to Aklavik and Inuvik over 800 miles away. There were no questions asked why our children were being sent away, no exclamations back then. Our parents and grandparents did not say much watching their children being taken away for months at a time.

Today, when I write or think about it, it hurts. It was the past and many of us survived it all, even our dear parents and grandparents. Today there are no more residential schools and hostels in the North. Many survivors are parents and grandparents now with loving children who are able to just walk to school without being sent away.
Many public schools are now built in each community. We even have college campuses in the North, heritage societies, a cultural school in Clyde River and more to come as our homeland is growing bigger and busier. Some say this is good and some say not good.

Too many influences such as alcohol and drugs came North. This is why we must take back our communities and take good care of our youth.

Today we in the Kitikmeot (Qitiqmiut) are trying to keep our Inuinnaqtut language alive before we lose it. The Canadian government must continue to provide funding for this important part of our Inuinnaq heritage. We have many courses put on by Nunavut Arctic College, more and more dictionaries being made and today we have computers and internet. It is our dream and vision that our language of Inuinnaqtut be stronger and stronger and never die. I will continue to write more about life back then and now.

As fall weather sets in I am reminded of us students who were sent to Inuvik to attend residential school. I remember we were all settled into our dormitories and assigned locker numbers, new clothes and of course many of use had to get our haircuts. I always remember the rubber boots we were given as it was fall time weather when we arrived into Inuvik. I remember all of us would go out in groups to begin our new school year with outdoor wiener roasts and I think we had roasted marshmallows too and juice. For many of us it was the first time seeing trees and bushes. It was strange. We would pick berries too while out at the wiener roasts. This was where we first met first nations kids, the Loucheaux now known as the Gwitchin.

We all would go to a big, big dining room and this is where we got to see our brothers, cousins and fellow community kids from our hometowns. We were not allowed to talk or go to our brothers and sisters. We were fed non-Inuit food, this was where we were introduced toast, mashed potatoes and more. I remember wishing for tea and bannock but that was not allowed at all either.

So today we survivors always treasure and enjoy that good cup of tea and bannock with our Elders and families. This is all for now until next time. Hello and hugs to our fellow hostel mates and schoolmates.

God Be With You Son.

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