We are all Inuit

by Lizzie Putulik and Jessie Gordon

In the past we, the Inuit, have always considered ourselves as one, which is probably the reason behind our identification as Inuit, which simply means, the people, in the English language. In order to survive on the harsh land, we had to stick together as one united family.

Today there seems to be a split between the Inuit of the Arctic by regions. Different dialects and the political border lines, set by the government seem to have split the Inuit into different groups.

I feel it would be a great shame if we, the Inuit, were not united together as closely as we have in the past. Today we need each other more than we ever have in the past. Our culture and the future of our children depend on what we do today so our children and our children’s children will have a better and a fuller future ahead of them as an independent race.

A word from Charlie Tookalook

My name is Charlie Tookalook, I will talk about what I know and what I can remember.

When I was a little boy, the thing that mattered most was when I would have the next meal I was near the point of starvation.

My father died when I was at the age of ten in 1936. My father died not of natural causes but because of the lack of something to eat. He ate some rotten seal meat that led him to his death. When he had died, was when we left our camp and moved here to where the Kabloona’s were in Great Whale River. We were amongst the Kabloona’s for five years, then in 1943 we were on our way to the camps again. In those days when I was a boy I liked to play outside until it was dark. Only when my mother called me in was when I would go home to sleep.

I also enjoyed having to get up early in the morning and put the harnesses on the dogs before the team left, so that I may go with them for only a short distance and I would head back home.

My mother would give me certain chores to do, such as: Getting some ice or snow for water; getting wood for the fire and when I was able to hunt I hunted for ptarmigan.

In the winter when my mother cleaned seal skins I used to be happy because she would tell me to take the skin and use it for sliding. I still wonder if my clothing got smelly from the seal skins.

I also remember when someone caught a square flipper. It was cut up and cooked by an elderly person. This person would call all her neighbours and gather for a feast. Today, the people in Great Whale River do not move around as much, and I don’t think they share their food with other people as much as they used to. But they still share food with relatives.