Writing Contest

Here are two winning entries from the stories submitted to the youth writing contest.  These stories, from Inukjuak, whose authors were both under 30- each won $50.

Markoosie Got Lost

By Winnie S. Amagoalik

When we first moved to Inukjuak back on November 11th, 1979 it was a very happy time.  About a year after we came, our whole family went out by canoe to spend a few weeks of summer camping out.  I don’t recall exactly where we went since I was so much younger then.

Anyways, since the water was kind of rough we went ashore to wait for the weather to clear. My mother and I, and my younger brother (since he was just a little boy) were to stay nearby the canoe, while the men went out to catch some moulting (flightless) geese.

Once my mother and I had some tea (the men hadn’t even bothered to have some) we went to pick some cranberries and crab apples.  After a while my father came back to have some tea.  Meanwhile my younger brother and I walked out to pick some more berries since we had eaten what little my mother had picked (she got mad when she found out).

Meanwhile, my mother had to go and order back my other three brothers to have some tea, since they were so eager to catch some flightless geese.   They just slammed it down their throats without even eating some bannock and off they went.  My mother and I went back to picking berries.

At that time, one of my brothers Markoosie, saw some geese and went after them and went out quite far.  After a long time, my mother and father became worried when he didn’t come back.  We had to stop picking berries to holler and look for him.  Lazarus, one of my other brothers, also went out quite far to look for him.  My mother and I had to take turns carrying Danny on our backs while we looked for my missing brother.  By that time we were sure he was really lost.

Finally, after some hard searching, (it was hard to figure out where he might have went), and since the sun was quite hot we had to go back to the canoe to rest.  We resumed our search after slaking our thirst.

Finally, Lazarus, who was still out there looking for Markoosie, gathered together some dry moss and made a fire.  It produced much smoke and that is how Markoosie figured out where we were.  Having figured out what Lazarus was up to, we all went back to the canoe to wait for them to come back.

Sure enough they both came back.  Markoosie said that, “I got scared when I found I was really lost. When I saw some fire smoke I went toward it.” We were all so grateful for Lazarus who had thought of producing the smoke.  After that my father emphasized to my brothers never to go out too far.  So that is a story about how we had to abandon our berry picking and goose hunting when my brother got lost and got us all scared and worried.  We were all quite happy to be all together when we got to our camp site.  I figure Markoosie had been lost for three and a half hours.

Harvesting Antlers

By Timothy Amittuk

I have a story to tell.  In 1990 my sister won a ski-doo through a local raffle.  The year before she has also won a ski-doo using 4 raffle tickets, so I had the use of the second ski-doo all winter to look for caribou antlers to sell.  At times, I was able to come back to the community three times daily with a load of antlers.

I went out for overnight trips without benefit of a tent, bedding or guns, the only things I carried were a fishing hook, a line to attach thereof, a teapot, some grub and ten gallons of gasoline, to save on weight.  I didn’t even bother to carry a caribou hide to sleep on and smoked very few cigarettes even though I had some, so intense was my search for antlers.

At times I got stuck in water logged creeks and crossed melting lakes whenever I espied some antlers.  When I came across a fishing hole, I jigged the line only about 20-50 times and immediately moved on, if I didn’t catch a fish right away.

Whenever I came across a fishing party, I met up with them just to have some tea and again, shoved off immediately because of my obsession with those antlers.  I even ignored the many Canada and snow geese even though it was the season for them.

I filled the seven foot box on my sled with antlers every day (I didn’t bother with live animals) and slept in it whenever I had to stay out overnight.  Other times I overnighted with people I happened to meet with out there and was usually up and around before they woke up, preparing to go out again.  At times I would come across people camping out for the spring season and would go eat something with them when I needed to eat something better than I had.

I noticed that Quebec’s coastal area had more antlers than inland.  My ski-doos were worn away to almost nothing.  Eventually I couldn’t turn my vehicle anymore, the ski shoes having worn away, since at times I went through rocky areas.

I even refused to take people out, who wanted to go goose hunting or fishing, since the antlers took up all my thoughts.  Whenever I met with hunting or fishing parties, they usually said, “Collecting antlers again, I see.”  The older ones sometimes said. “Collecting firewood again, I see,” since my load looked like a lot of dead branches.

Whenever I came back to the community, I was at times embarrassed, since I had a lot of antlers outside the house and on my porch.  It didn’t help that our house was right in the middle of the village.  When I finally started to go goose hunting or fishing, I really missed harvesting those antlers.  During one of those fishing trips, I couldn’t hold myself back anymore and went out around the lake to look for some more antlers, I collected 12 that time.