The following stories are both from Inukjuak and from young authors under the age of 30.
A Lesson to Remember
By Sarah Berthe
My lesson to remember has to do with Caribou. Two years ago, me and my classmates in secondary III decided to go on a class excursion out in the land. On our way to where we were headed, we saw a lot of caribou and their calves. We didn’t shoot any because it was our first day and we wanted to save the hunt for the next day. That was OK because we would have all day the next day, to hunt caribou and that day it was almost dark.
The next day we were outside getting ready to hunt. We fought over who would drive and who wouldn’t.
Later, we were driving, we ran into some caribou and we were all excited.
All the guys shot some but not all of the caribou died so we chased them.
When they were finally shot, we had to drag them all to one spot. At the spot, we all learned how to skin a caribou, we had lots of fun. We had one caribou each to skin. In a way, it was kind of disgusting because when we accidentally poked one in the stomach, a really bad odor would come out. Later, someone skinned a caribou with me because it was too big for one person. Despite all that disgusting stuff, we had lots of fun.
Me and one of my classmates finished skinning one caribou so we hopped on a ski-doo, took a gun and drove around until we saw a caribou. We didn’t see one so we just drove around.
When every body was finished, we left all the caribou that we skinned to freeze outside over night. We were all tired and wanted to rest so we went back to the cabin and stayed there all night. Some of us played cards. I gambled away all of my chocolate.
In the morning, we got all packed and ready to go. On our way to town it was cold and a little windy. We were still having lots of fun. We kept seeing a lot of caribou and so we shot and skinned some. All together, we got about five caribou. By then, we thought we had enough and we were tired of skinning because it was so cold. We all packed up and got ready to start coming back. As we were riding our ski-doos home, one of the students stopped to rest. There was a calf about 20 metres away from where we were, so I took my gun out and tried scaring it by shooting beside it. One of the guys told me to stop and I said, “one last shot.” Unfortunately, I shot its leg and so the guy who told me to stop gave me a mean face and told me to kill it and skin it myself. I was so embarrassed because everybody was quiet for the longest time afterwards.
That guy then has no choice but to skin the calf because we couldn’t just leave it. He told me to never shoot for fun; specifically around animals. I have never shot a gun for the fun of it since. That was a lesson to remember!
By Ina Cain
In Nunavik, all villages are next to the water. As for myself, I’m lucky to live in the little village of Tasiujaq, on Ungava Bay. On nice days when there is not even a breath of wind, I can see the surrounding land reflected in this turquoise, watery mirror.
Near our village, there are a few mountains. Magnificent mountains make me think of my grandparents who hunted by dogsled. I often get the feeling that they’re protecting our community. My favorite mountain, which is beside the airport, looks like a seal.
What I like best is going camping. It’s so good not to have to think about anything. Peacefulness is everywhere. It even seems like our problems have disappeared and sleep is deep under the earth. As well, there are animals everywhere, even ones that you don’t see in other villages, like musk-ox. What I like to see most though are wolves. They run so fast and have beautiful furs.
Everyone in the village knows each other. They smile and say hello every time they meet. The elders are very kind and friendly. They recount legends and tell us how life was before, when Inuit lived in tents and igloos. As for the teenagers, they work and have fun together. They play games not to win but for the pleasure of being together.
Almost every night I go for a walk on my own. It’s very quiet and I take in the immensity of the sky: the moon, her little friends the stars and the gracious Northern lights with their magnificent colors. They are the most beautiful sight in the world. If I whistle while I walk the Northern lights sway and it’s as if they’re walking with me in the night. I know they can be seen in other places too, but it’s only in Tasiujaq that the Northern lights walk with humans.
It’s so peaceful you can hear the snow fall. This music moves through me like magic. Sometimes as I listen to the wind shiver and look over the enchanted landscape, I feel a gentle sensation of well-being wash over me.
Right now the ground is covered with a blanket of snow. It’s everywhere and it’s an immaculate white, not dirtied by automobile pollution or calcium. What a beautiful spectacle it is to watch the first snow fall over the shoulders of the mountains! Children always joyfully welcome these first flakes.
I think now you must understand the love I feel for this small village. Maybe one day we’ll meet here and I will be able to say hello to you, as is our custom.
(Makivik Magazine, Spring 1999, page 46)