Inuk Pilot & Johnny Qissiq

The following stories deal with specific Inuit individuals and their lives. We hope you enjoy them.

Johnny Qissiq

It was around 1979 that the value of sealskins really went down. We have no control over this situation, so we are more or less resigned to it.

I am afraid of what might happen if these conservation groups that have made governments stop the sale of sealskins continue their pressure. It might get to the point that they will stop us from hunting seals at all.

In the days when there was no electricity or fuel, all parts of the seal were used, including the fat for seal oil lamps and heating. Since the introduction of electricity and gas there is no use like this for seal blubber, only as misiraq to make the seal meat go down better. Since the blubber is not used as much as before, we usually take the best parts for eating and leave the rest for scavengers. What has been discarded quickly disappears. At the floe edge in winter, if you skin a seal and leave the guts and go back there later you won’t find anything left.

In times past, if one seal was caught for a family for two days, the dogs had to get about twice as much. Of course, it depended on the use of the dogs. If they were used a lot, they had to be fed a lot more. Dogs were later eliminated to avoid the spread of rabies and the danger to children. This is a new relationship we have with dogs, petting them. In the past, children weren’t allowed to go near the dogs.

There seems to be fewer seals coming around this area since people moved from their camps and into the village, using boats and other machines that make noise. There are fewer seal hunters now. The younger generation isn’t hunting as much as people did in the old days. Young people today just seem to be looking for anything that gives them a thrill or keeps them amused. They’re not serious about doing anything productive. It’s getting so that some of them are becoming useless to themselves and their families.

(Taqralik, June 1985, page 41)  

Inuk Pilot

by André Girard 

Adamie Alaku from Salluit has been thinking of becoming a pilot since he was a kid. On November 15 1982, his dream came through as Air Inuit hired him on a permanent basis.

It all started when Adamie first got in contact with the Kativik School Board in the fall of 1979. At the time, he had no idea on what the procedures were in order to get proper training. After consulting KSB, he was sent to the Ottawa vocational training in February of 1980.

After successfully completing the course that was to provide him with his commercial license, Adamie decided to go back to class last summer in order to follow the “instruments” course which among other things, gives the pilot the ability and the right to fly above and through the clouds. In October 1982, that specific course was completed and Adamie was fully licensed and ready to work.

In a brief interview, Adamie explained a number of things about his experience as a pilot. He made a few recommendations to young people who wish to obtain a pilot license. First, you need a good school education in order to go through all the theory lessons and successfully pass the exams. Secondly, you should be willing to fully dedicate yourself to your work, keeping in mind that flying an airplane is serious business and that people’s life depend on your performance.

Now that Adamie has been working at Air Inuit for almost a year, he pointed out that everything has been going very good for him. He insisted on the fact that being the only Inuk pilot did not create any problem yet as he gets along very well with all others and is treated just as equal. Another thing that he appreciates in his work is the rotating schedule; the working periods are divided by shifts lasting three weeks which means that you fly for three weeks and then you are off for three others. The rotating schedule enables him to see his family and friends on a regular basis. In a three week flying period, a pilot spends anywhere from 70 to 75 hours average in the air.

Adamie’s objective for the future is to become a captain. To get there, he will have to accumulate flying hours, prove his qualifications and show through his flying experience that he has the necessary aptitudes. Also among his plans is to eventually follow a special course that would allow him to fly bigger airplanes. This would definitely open up the doors to a larger variety of flying experiences.

Adamie concluded by pointing out that if some people think they can be serious enough to go through theory successfully (meteorology, flying techniques, air regulations and so on), he definitely encourages them to do so because being a pilot is a fascinating experience that is worth living. 

(Taqralik, May 1983, page 13)