Tusaayaksat Magazine – Fall 2019

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TUSAAYAKSAT MEANS “STORIES AND VOICES THAT NEED TO BE HEARD.” WE CELEBRATE INUVIALUIT PEOPLE, CULTURE AND HERITAGE. OUR MISSION: To empower, celebrate, communicate, heal and bond. To bring you the best coverage of our news, vibrant culture and perspectives.
























R U N WAY TRENDS: YEARS IN THE MAKING AS MODELS STRUTTED DOWN THE INUVIK RUNWAY IN JULY, adorned in sealskin, polar bear, layers of fringe and iridescent beads, it became clear the Arctic Fashion Show spoke to what tradition can bring to the table today.

Arctic Fashion Show has been part of Inuvik’s Great Northern Arts Festival for about 30 years, but its first-time organizers Erica Lugt and Lesley Villeneuve were prepared to give the show a new look, while still holding its roots in the past. This year’s theme for the Great Northern Arts Festival was especially fitting: Clothed in Culture. “I’m still smiling after last night’s show,” said Lugt the day after the July show. “It went really well and better than we expected. I felt it brought the vision that we wanted to life and had a lot of really good responses.”


Because of a strong desire to ignite passion in others for Inuvialuit fashion, Lugt decided that rather than bringing in historical outfits from the Yellowknife museum, as done previously, she would collect handmade pieces by those in the community. The event featured 39 looks, which Lugt said required her and Villeneuve to “raid family members’ closets” to find traditional pieces to showcase. She had at first asked designers in the community to contribute pieces for the show, but found many were reluctant to create outfits for art, rather than sale.




Lugt, a designer herself, has worked with other artists who were happy to showcase their art on runways, including Nunavut-based Victoria’s Arctic Fashion, with whom Lugt collaborated to show off her earrings at Paris Fashion Week. But Lugt explained that sort of self-promotion isn’t as common for artists in the Beaufort Delta. “That hasn’t been introduced to my part of the world yet,” she added. It also comes down to the cost of creating such outfits, explained Helen Kitekudlak, an elder seamstress from Ulukhaktok. Although Inuvialuit designers today often opt for more accessible materials than what was used traditionally, the price of making one item still comes up to a pretty penny to buy the material needed. For example, the cost of materials for an outer parka – a light layer worn over a heavy coat – can add up to $100 in the North, averaging about $20 a metre. It’s the reason why Kitekudlak said she often waits until her trips to Edmonton to buy materials; it’s simply cheaper, she explained. That’s not to mention the hours that go into creating a single piece. “It does take a lot of time putting (a parka) together,” said Savannah EliasBeaulieu, who modelled two parkas and semi-mukluks made by her mother, Eleanor Elias. Though they were made by her mother, Elias-Beaulieu said she had designed them herself, including a brilliant red-and-black fitted parka. Complete with red sealskin at the hem and cuffs, the neckline featured a luxurious red fox fur collar. Strips of embroidery above the hem and along the arms accentuate it.




However, from creating patterns, measuring the parka to her daughter’s body, sewing each piece together and embroidering it, each coat took up to two months to make. That’s aside from the usual two-day process of tanning the skins. “That’s why we start using commercial tanned material. And when we home tan, we still have the smell of the animal on them and it’s not easy to get that smell off,” added Kitekudlak, who makes parkas, mitts and boots, among other items, from animal skins. “If we are going to sell to southern areas, that’s how come we tend to use commercial tanned cuts that don’t have the animal smell on it.” Although the process of creating such pieces is strenuous and time consuming today, the work was all the more difficult back in the day, but was necessary as a means to survive. After migrating east from Alaska around 1,000 A.D., Inuvialuit had to make use of their new surroundings, finding means for food, clothing and shelter from the land. The animals and fish were food at first, with the skins and fur making a perfect source for tents and clothing. Most often brought back were muskrats, wolverine, polar bears and squirrels, as well as sealskin worn in the summer for its waterproof qualities. But most commonly worn was caribou because of its insulating properties. It was used for many things, including the outer layer of a parka and its sinew to sew pieces together. The fur of other animals, like wolverine, wolf and fox, were placed as trimming, as it still is today. “Traditional clothing was so crucial for living up north, keeping warm,” said Kitekudlak. “It was for survival.” Although Kitekudlak sewed mostly for her children, it wasn’t until she retired from Helen Kavlak School in 2011 that her seamstress abilities came to fruition.



People began commissioning her for works, ranging from parkas and kamiks to muskrat dolls, but the piece she holds closest to her heart is a drum dancing coat. As legends and stories are an integral part of Inuvialuit culture, so is drum dancing, an act where people dance to the beat of a caribou skin drum and relay legends and stories through their movements. The traditional drum dancing outfit is similar to what people wore in the past, including a caribou coat and boots, but each piece keeps to the colour scheme of the region and is more heavily decorated. Layers of fringe can be seen swaying off the dancers’ coats along with flashes of embroidery or beading. Adding to the look are tufts of fur on the hem, sleeves and around the neck, with boots that often display a mastery of beading, unless kept plain. The biggest difference today is that most dancers pair the outfit with jeans. “They have more parts to them and more designs (than other coats),” Kitekudlak explained. “Men’s ones and ladies’ coats are practically the same, but it’s different in some areas. And the fringes are made out of hide or skin and not leather. I needed help with how much fringe goes on each and to know where to sew them on.” The project had Kitekudlak going back to an elder in the community to help her understand how certain parts were sewn together. “I found it really challenging, but really rewarding when I was finished,” she said. The simplicity of the coats’ colour scheme spawned inspiration for Lugt as well, who said “it’s the most simple yet bold design that is so eye catching.” Lugt’s earrings are best recognized by the brick stitch technique she learned through a course with the Great Northern Arts Festival two years ago.



The geometric beading is paired with an array of colours Lugt carefully combines, but the solid lines of black and white beading in between is inspired by the drum dancing coats. “They are the most beautiful parkas ever,” said Lugt. “When they’re up there dancing, you see all those intricate designs on these parkas with the black and white. You just can’t take your eyes off of it.” Modelling a drum dancing parka by Alice Hunter during Arctic Fashion Show was Willow Allen, who considered it her favourite garment. “I just remember seeing it all the time when we would go to drum dancing events with my family,” said Allen. “I always thought it was so beautiful and to get to wear one myself was an honour.” Allen is a 21-year-old model from Inuvik who, in the last two years, has posed for Levi’s, Sony and Prada, among other brands. Despite her international success, hitting the runway in Inuvik meant a lot for the Inuvialuit woman, as a way to celebrate her community, her culture and the art that springs forth from it. “It was one of my favourite shows just because it was really meaningful to me. Because that’s my background and my culture and I don’t usually get to relate to the fashion world like that,” said Allen. “I think it sort of helps the world see how beautiful my culture is and it kind of projects it to a bigger audience and more people see it as fashion and as beautiful.” With Lugt’s work showcased internationally, Allen representing her culture on the glossy pages of magazines and Kitekudlak keeping her neighbours warm with her intricate parkas, it’s clear Inuvialuit fashion still has a place in the world, and its impact will only strengthen as more artists come to the forefront.





When teenaged Savannah Elias-Beaulieu was announced as fourth princess for Miss Teen Canada Globe, she was at a loss for words, enthralled at the fact that she had made it that far.

words by Dana Bowen

But that was just the beginning. That November in 2017, she was then named Miss Teen Maja of the World in Honduras. “At the beginning, I was very nervous,” said EliasBeaulieu. “I had no previous experience before that, except watching Toddlers and Tiaras, so I was pretty new to it.” The young woman was selected to be part of the competition in Toronto, but it meant some serious fundraising first. Through working at Northmart and selling beef jerky, along with other fundraising campaigns, Elias-Beaulieu had to raise $10,000 to compete in the big city. “Me and my mom would go fundraise and would make a lot of beef jerky,” she said.


Being the only contestant from the Northwest Territories, and the only Canadian in the Honduras pageant, Elias-Beaulieu represented her culture through the national costume competition.

“My mom said, ‘choose an activity outside of school,’ and for me it was pageantry,” she explained. Elias-Beaulieu added that she had been interested in pageants since she was a child, but she never fully considered it until about two years ago. She dove headfirst into the competition, where she trained for up to 18 hours a day leading up to the event, taking confidence and public speaking classes, among others. During the event, she participated in swimsuit, evening and talent competitions. Miss Teen Canada Globe, the teenager also had the opportunity to talk about a topic close to her heart: Moyamoya disease. Her father died from the rare disease in 2013, when Elias-Beaulieu was just 10 years old. “It’s a very rare one so I thought that at the pageant, I could raise awareness of that,” she explained. But that isn’t the only cause Elias-Beaulieu is passionate about. She is now a peer facilitator with the non-profit group FOXY (Fostering Open eXpression among Youth), which helps empower young women and gender-diverse youth through the arts and traditional knowledge. As for modelling, Elias-Beaulieu said she hopes to continue competing in bigger pageants in the future. Modelling in Inuvik’s Arctic Fashion Show was an opportunity for her to once again celebrate where she comes from.

There, applicants were encouraged to don outfits showing where they come from. The Inuvik model struck a pose in clothing made entirely by relatives, “I am proud to be Indigenous,” she said. “You can including an atikluq, polar bear mukluks and never showcase traditional clothing enough.” matching headband, and a pair of ulu earrings. While all of her success came rushing in within a year, Elias-Beaulieu’s decision to enter pageants came at first as an ultimatum.



Answering her phone from Toronto, 21-year-old Willow Allen spoke about her life and career while on set for a photoshoot with insurance company Manulife; it’s a big brand, but small potatoes compared to projects she’s done in the past.

words by Dana Bowen

“I’ve done a lot of cool things in Asia,” Allen said over the phone. “I did Levi’s and New Balance, but they were only campaigns in those other countries. Right now I’m shooting for Shoppers. This is the coolest to me just because it’s in Canada and that’s who’s going to see it.” Allen hails from Inuvik but was scouted by a southern modelling agency in 2016 after an agent spotted her photos on Instagram. While the young woman at first turned the potential contract down, she began reconsidering the career choice a year later, while studying at MacEwan University in Edmonton. “I never really thought about it until people started telling me to do it,” she said. “I didn’t think there were jobs like this that I could do, or that there would be any real money out of it.”


While still enrolled in university full-time, Allen signed on for a three-year contract with Mode Models. The company sent her to live in Singapore for three months, where she modelled for brands like Highsnobiety and even Prada.

But it hasn’t all been a luxurious adventure for the model. After overcoming the culture shock in Asia and returning to Canada, the balance between modelling and university was trying. “It’s definitely been really hard because when I was a full-time student in the first semester of school and was also modelling, there was a lot of pressure,” she explained. “I would have a class I couldn’t skip (for a photoshoot) and would have to tell my agency. And they’d say, ‘You have to, this is big for you.’ I would have to figure out a way to make it work.” This time around, Allen is opting for online classes while living in Inuvik and travelling for modelling gigs when she needs to. She is going to continue studying social work as she has always been passionate about giving back to her community, she said. “My family went to residential school, so I’ve seen all these things happen because of that,” Allen explained. “I feel like I can relate to the people I will be helping. I think that it’s really important to have people in that role who understand.” Allen added she has about three years left of university and is determined to do what she dreams of: working for Child and Family Services in Inuvik. Until then, she’ll continue modelling, adding, “I just want to keep as balanced as I can.”


When Ashley Elias walked down the Indigenous Fashion Week runway in 2018, the mother of two walked with pride, having represented the North in Australia.

It was a weekly class, where the teenager was taught how to pose for a camera and how to walk a runway, while instructors worked on boosting young women’s confidence.

“I felt honoured to represent my Inuit culture,”

“It kept me out of trouble growing up in my teens,” she said. “I looked forward to every Saturday.”

words by she said. “Not a lot of Inuit or Indigenous people DANA BOWEN

have this opportunity. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me – I felt proud.”

While the fashion show mainly featured Indigenous models from Australia and New Zealand, Elias was one of two Canadian models and the only one from the North. Despite the models’ different origins, Elias said the women all shared one commonality. “We were all Indigenous, so we all share that one thing,” she said. “All the models were really supportive. We all got along.” Elias had landed the opportunity to model in Australia after applying to an ad through Facebook seeking Indigenous women from around the globe. She was chosen two weeks later and then flown to Melbourne for the show, with hours a day of training leading up to the event. TOP LEFT MODEL: ASHLEY ELIAS HEADPIECE: BRIGITTE GENOIS EARRINGS: SHE WAS A FREE SPIRIT, ERICA LUGT BUSTIER: DIANE BAXTER MAKEUP: REBECCA BAXTER TOP RIGHT MODEL: ASHLEY ELIAS COVER: ETHEL GRUBEN MAKEUP: REBECCA BAXTER MAKEUP: LESLEY VILLENEUVE

She attended modelling classes at the age of 14 in Edmonton after seeing an ad for lessons in the Edmonton Sun newspaper.

“The training was really intense,” she explained. “You train from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you’re in heels all day.” But it was well worth it for Elias, who wasn’t just modelling internationally for the first time; it was also her first experience on a professional runway. Before that show in March 2018, Elias had trained to be a model as a teenager but hadn’t yet practised the craft.

Since then, Elias has been consistently searching for modelling opportunities online, doing photoshoots to build her portfolio and taking on gigs in both the NWT and Nunavut. In the past year alone, Elias travelled to Iqaluit to showcase designs for Victoria’s Arctic Fashion and modelled several outfits for Inuvik’s Arctic Fashion Show as part of the Great Northern Arts Festival. All the while her two children, ages five and eight, have been rooting for her. “They think it’s pretty cool,” said Elias. “‘My mommy is on the runway. My mommy, the model,’ – that’s what they say. It’s flattering.” As both mother and employee working in housing services, Elias said modelling is more of a hobby for the moment. But she said she has the drive to keep going and will continue to seek out opportunities. “I know it’s really competitive, but I believe I’ve got what it takes and I have the confidence,” she added. Like her relative, Savannah Elias-Beaulieu, Elias will likely be seen on more of the world’s runways in the future.






MOST ARCHAEOLOGISTS WOULD ADMIT to having favourite artifacts they have uncovered in their fieldwork. My list includes the so-called ‘Thule type 2’ harpoon heads that I have found at several archaeological sites in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Their size and shape suggest they were tips of harpoons used for throwing at swimming seals, either from a boat or at the ice edge. Like so much of the technology that has made survival in the Arctic possible, this type of harpoon head was a marvel of engineering. The complete harpoon was designed in such a way that, when a seal was struck, the head with a line attached to it would separate from the rest of the harpoon. If the harpoon head penetrated deeply, a spur at the

A ‘Thule type 2’ harpoon head uncovered during excavations of an archaeological site at the mouth of the Mackenzie River. (C. Arnold photo)

base would cause it to pivot so that it would not pull out when the hunter retrieved the seal. If it did not penetrate completely, barbs near the pointed end might still hold the harpoon head attached to the seal. These harpoon heads could have been made only with basic functional features and worked as intended, but often they were enhanced with decorative elements that may carry meanings one can only wonder about. I use the word ‘elegant’ when I describe them. These harpoon heads also fascinate me because they are a signature of a great migration of people from northern Alaska into the Canadian Arctic and Greenland about 800 years ago that ushered in the Thule Period of Inuit history.

This map shows possible routes by which people expanded into Arctic regions north of the Bering Strait during the Thule period.

The term Thule (pronounced ‘too-lee’) was adopted from an ancient village near Thule (modern Qaanaaq) in northern Greenland that was excavated in the 1920s, and is applied to the archaeological remains found across much of the Arctic of a hunting culture that was based in large part on harvesting large marine mammals, particularly bowhead whales and walrus, by pursuing them in skin boats on the open seas. Archaeological sites in the Bering Sea region show that the technologies, and by inference the knowledge and skills, for hunting large marine animals were developed in that area as early as 2,000 years ago by people who were the ancestors of Yuit, Inupiat, Inuit and Kalaallit. Over the next 1,000 years, this maritime culture spread north along coastal regions of Siberia and Alaska. Then, in a migration that seems rapid in comparison, people moved into the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. What triggered this eastward movement of people is unknown, but an episode of global climate

warming that began at about the same time may have played a role by reducing the extent and seasonal duration of ice in the Arctic Ocean, which in turn increased the summer range of whales and walrus that depend on open water. The Inuvialuit Settlement Region was at the gateway for the Thule migration into the rest of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, but except for a few places, erosion along shorelines has erased much of the archaeological record of that period. One of the places where remains from the Thule Period have been found is at the mouth of the Nelson River on the south coast of Banks Island. In that area, rings of boulders mark the location of tents that people lived in during the summer open water season while they hunted bowhead whales, and nearby are the remains of more substantial sod houses built with frames of driftwood and whale bones that those same people might have lived in during the winter.


This drawing shows what the shape of one of the winter houses at the Nelson River archaeological site might have looked like based on remains revealed through excavations.


Container made from baleen.

Ladle, made from wood.

Toy sled.

Left to right: two harpoon heads, a doll made of wood, a polar bear tooth that might have been attached to clothing, a needle case, and a line handle with the face of a polar bear carved at each end.

DID YOU KNOW? All beneficiaries of the IFA are able to browse Inuvialuit artefacts – including ones from the Nelson River site – at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, NT. Set up an appointment today at: (867) 767-9347 or by emailing pwnhc@gov.nt.ca


Archaeologists stand near shallow depressions that mark the location of an eroding Thule Period archaeological site near the mouth of the Nelson River on the southern coast of Banks Island. (C. Arnold photo)

The buried remains of a two-roomed winter dwelling at the Nelson River that was in the process of being washed away by wave action was excavated in the early 1980s. Radiocarbon dates indicate that it had been built about 800 years ago, and most of the artifacts found in the excavations are typical of the early Thule Period. These include hunting and fishing implements, such as parts of harpoons, fish spears and bows; household items, including an oil-burning lamp made from clay, containers made from strips of baleen taken from the mouths of bowhead whales, ladles and platters made from driftwood; skin scrapers, needles and a needle case for preparing clothing; teeth of various seals, fox and polar bears with drilled holes or other modifications that could have been amulets; and numerous items that would have been used by children, such as dolls, child-size bows and arrows, and a small qamutik sled. These artifacts are now being cared for at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife. While archaeology can paint a fairly detailed picture of activities at a particular site, especially if it incorporates Inuit Traditional Knowledge, when extended over a broader area and a longer period of time, the picture can be painted only in broad strokes. Many of the objects found at the Nelson River site have been found in near-identical forms in early Thule Period archaeological sites in other areas of what is now the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. But that uniformity began to break down over time as people adapted to local resources.

In some coastal areas of the Beaufort Sea, hunting of large whales continued, but people who moved into the estuary at the mouth of the Mackenzie River turned to hunting beluga whales as a main source of food. In the eastern part of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, cooling of the Earth’s climate starting around 400 years ago is thought to have increased the duration and extent of sea ice, particularly in the Coronation Gulf, so that large whales no longer entered those waters. People there began to divide their time between hunting caribou and fishing on land in summer, and hunting seals on the sea ice in winter. Regional cultural patterns also developed in other parts of the Arctic. These were based on differences in what was available locally for survival, the impacts of changes in climate over time and the nature of contacts with Europeans – beginning with Norse settlers in Greenland and later with whalers, traders, missionaries and government agencies. Some Thule Period Inuit might also have encountered remnant groups of their distant ancestors, the Sivullirmiut (‘The First People’ in Inuvialuktun), who had disappeared from much of the Arctic except perhaps in isolated areas (note: refer to the Spring 2019 edition of Tusaayaksat Magazine, where we look closer at the Sivullirmiut). But the diversity within Inuit culture that occurred over space and through time was built on the knowledge, skills, technologies and other cultural traits that were carried throughout the Arctic in the Thule Period, and that are the common heritage of Inuit today.



woke up to the fact that there was an urgent need to assist with community and economic development in the Arctic. Many Inuit who relied on fur trapping for their livelihood were moving into communities where schools, nursing stations, stores and other services were available, but where there were few employment opportunities. The construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line in the mid-to-late 1950s created some jobs, but most of them disappeared once the DEW Line went into operation. One of the programs that the government came up with to promote economic development was the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Project. The first government-sponsored Fur Garment Project in what is now the Inuvialuit Settlement Region started in Aklavik in 1959. For several decades, Aklavik had been the commercial centre for the Western Arctic, but with the construction of Inuvik in the late 1950s, much of that activity shifted to the new location.

Sarah Gruben (McKay) stands in front of a sign for the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Project, circa 1965. NWT Archives/Gladys Vear photographs/N-2013-023:0014.

The Aklavik Fur Garment Project began as a training course specifically for women offered by the Vocational Training Program of the Northern Administration Branch of the federal government. Most women in the community made clothing and other items for their family by hand sewing, drawing on skills and knowledge of how to make garments that had been passed down through the generations. The goal of the Aklavik Fur Garment Project was to build on existing skills to design and produce unique garments that could be marketed both locally and in other parts of Canada. Instruction was provided in pattern making, using industrial sewing machines and working with commercially tanned furs.


Fur Garment Shop, Tuktoyaktuk, circa 1960s. Seated, left to right: Hester Adam, Alice Gruben, Ivy Anikina, Bessie Amos, Laura Raymond. Standing, middle row, left to right: Sam Jacobson, Billy Panaktaloak, Ernest LaTour (Instructor), Sarah Gruben, Agnes Klengenberg, Pearl Pingo, Christina Klengenberg, Suzanne Ettagiak, Mary Kotokak. Standing back row, left to right: Cora Kimiksana, Bessie Wolki, Hester Cockney.

Ernest LaTour, a professional furrier, was hired as the instructor for the six-month course. When it was decided to continue the program as a commercial operation, he stayed on to manage that transition. In 1962, he was hired to set up a similar training program in Tuktoyaktuk. A workshop was set up in a part of the school building, but it quickly outgrew that space and in 1965 moved into another building. By that time, the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Project, like the Aklavik project had done several years earlier, made a change from vocational training to commercial production. Ongoing training was still required, and Ernest LaTour stayed on as instructor and general problem solver until the early 1970s. A manager trainee position also was created. Soapstone carvings, ulu knives and a few other craft items made by men were sold in the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop, but most items were made by local women, including parkas, mitts, slippers, mukluks, hats, wall hangings, placemats and dolls. A few items also came from other communities. For most of the time it was in operation, the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop was judged to be a huge success. Over the years, it provided training and employment for dozens of people, mainly women who had few other employment prospects in the community. It also turned a profit most years.

However, there were some problems. In the early years, all supplies had to be purchased through the government, an overly bureaucratic process that resulted in delays obtaining tanned furs and other materials, so that employees sometimes had to be laid off and orders went unfilled. The government also took on responsibilities for marketing, with some unforeseen consequences (see the ‘Sikusi’ story following this article). This situation was improved in 1968 when the fur garment shop was incorporated as a community-owned and operated cooperative, the Nanuk Cooperative Association, which took over responsibilities for the day-to-day operations. For business reasons, the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop ceased operations in the early 1980s. In the following years, several women who had worked there set up their own sewing and craft shops, but the legacy of the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop extends to many others in the community who gained workplace experience and an income from the project. The following people provided information for this article: Nellie Cournoyea, Annie Felix, Maureen Pokiak, Letitia Pokiak, Ernest Pokiak and Rosemary Lundrigan.

Pearl Pingo (sitting) and Bessie Wolki (standing), Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop, Tuktoyaktuk, circa 1960s. (Le Meur Family Collection)

Lila Voudrach. Fur Garment Shop, Tuktoyaktuk, circa 1960s. (Le Meur Family Collection)

Christina Klengenberg Fur Garment Shop, Tuktoyaktuk, circa 1960s. (Le Meur Family Collection) Retail area of the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop, circa late 1960s. Items for sale include parkas, mitts, slippers, mukluks, hats, wall hangings, placemats and Ookpik and Sikusi dolls. A sign hanging from the ceiling says ‘I am Sikusi. I was invented here’. (Inuvialuit Social Development Program)

Retail area of the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop, circa late 1960s. Items for sale include parkas, mitts, slippers, mukluks, hats, wall hangings, placemats and Ookpik and Sikusi dolls. A sign hanging from the ceiling says ‘I am Sikusi. I was invented here’. (Inuvialuit Social Development Program)



A Sikusi made by Violet Mamayuak Kikoak in 1965. (Photo credit: Ernest Pokiak)

In 1963, a snowy owl doll named ‘Ookpik’ went viral. It had been created by Jeannie Snowball and others at the cooperative in Fort Chimo (now named Kuujjuaq) and was chosen by the federal government as a Canadian symbol and mascot during the international Philadelphia Trade Fair. The first Ookpik dolls were handmade in Fort Chimo, but the demand for them was so great that the design was trademarked and they were mass produced in other locations under licensing arrangements. The hugely popular Ookpik dolls inspired books, clothing, comics, songs and even a television program. Hoping to build on that success story, the government agency in charge of marketing handicrafts devised a plan to market companion dolls. One doll that was chosen to be an ‘Ookpik Friend’ was an ice worm doll named Sikusi that was made at the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop. The origins of the Sikusi doll are unclear, but in the lead up to declaring it to be an Ookpik Friend, a trademark was registered, naming Mary Kotokak, Pearl Pingo, Emma Gruben, Ivy Raddi, Hester Adam, Annie Loreen, Cora Kimiksana and Christine Klengenberg, all of Tuktoyaktuk, as the creators. One hundred and fifty of the dolls were made for the unveiling, which took place in Ottawa on March 3, 1965, at an event called an ‘Ookpiknik’ that was covered nationally by newspaper and television reporters. Some of the dolls were distributed to guests, along with a printed copy of the so-called legend of the ice-worm:

Once upon a time in the village of Tuktoyaktuk, there lived a kind and gentle man who loved all living things. One day while walking in the frozen north, he was buried in a snow slide by an evil spirit who turned the snow slide into a wall of ice. The people of Tuktoyaktuk were troubled and sad, but started at once to free their friend. They chipped and chopped, but the ice wall was too thick. Now near the village in a valley of small and happy creatures lived Sikusi, a wooly and mischievous ice worm. He heard the noise, and defying the evil spirit, left the valley of happy things, and headed to the ice wall. The people of Tuktoyaktuk saw him coming but

turned away. This was no time for mischief making. They must free the kind and gentle man. Sikusi went straight to the ice wall and melted a path to the man in the ice. The man was free, and the people of Tuktoyaktuk were happy again. The evil spirit saw what had happened and he was afraid. He left the village of Tuktoyaktuk and never returned. Sikusi the Mischief Maker was the hero of the day. He still melts holes through igloo walls. He makes mischief wherever he goes. But the people of the north look upon his mischief as a sign of good fortune. A problem with this legend is that it is not authentic. A letter in government files that describes the unveiling admits, “We would, had time permitted, have asked the assistance of the people of Tuktoyaktuk in preparing the legend … but we were pushed to act at once (and invented the story).” According to Inuvialuit artist Bill Nasogaluak, who has created several sculptures of ice worms, the true legend may simply have been a story told to children to keep them away from dangerous openings in the sea ice, where “the evil ice worm would swallow them.” The legend made up in Ottawa wasn’t the only issue with the government promoting Sikusi dolls. The government expected the dolls to be so popular that they put in an initial order for 2,000 and indicated that as many as 5,000 more might be needed for southern retail outlets. This was far more than the people who worked at the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop could produce, so the work was farmed out to others in the community. But there wasn’t enough of the fur used for the original dolls, so people used whatever was at hand. However, southern retailers wanted the dolls to be the same as the original 150, and were not happy with the lack of consistency and quality. In the end, many of 2,000 dolls were sent back. Ironically, because they were now trademarked, the Tuktoyaktuk Fur Garment Shop had to get government approval to continue to make and sell Sikusi dolls in the place where they were originally created.


TREASURES OF THE ARCTIC Polished agates and chert from Paulatuk.



orgive me, for my entire goal as editor-in-chief of Tusaayaksat Magazine was not to make the magazine about myself. That’s why I kept my name off the pages and photos during my time here. I’ve had an incredible experience chronicling the people, land and culture of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. But there’s one thing that stood out and still calls to me, and for that I do have to make a brief article about my own interests. You’ve got some great rocks up here. I’ve been a rockhound for several years, which means I enjoy looking for special rocks, collecting them and getting them polished. I have many pendants, cabochons, slabs and other pieces of jewelry from rocks I’ve found. Most of my time has been spent hounding Dallasite on Vancouver Island, but I’m always on the lookout wherever I go.


I had a trip to Paulatuk last fall, when snow did not quite cover the beach yet. I took a stroll down to the water for pictures and was immediately enthralled. The whole community is full of agate and chert material. In fact, the roads are essentially paved with it. Agate is the name for translucent or semi-translucent microcrystalline quartz. It is usually best identified in the translucent banding shown in the photo on the opposite page, which is known as fortifications. This is a semiprecious stone, meaning it’s not quite up there like emerald or topaz, but it’s more special than your average rock. You know, ‘semi’-precious. Paulatuk agates appear to be a mix of blues, purples and greys. They are absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t fit enough in my bag. I was bashing the permafrost beach until my hands were frozen trying to get my favourite ones out. And I only had access to a small strip of bare land. Clearly, the region is stuffed with geological treasures. I’ve seen amber and petrified wood from the area before.

DID YOU KNOW? A Roadmap to Mineral Exploration & Development in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region is now being printed, soon to be presented to ISR communities.


‘Rough’ agates, meaning these stones have not been polished. Note the banding or ‘fortifications’ that signify the agate look.

Pendants made from petrified wood, left, and chert from Paulatuk. Though the chert looks similar to the agates, and most stones have both materials in them, this chert is not translucent and therefore is not technically agate.


THERE’S GOLD, DIAMONDS AND TREASURE UNDER YOUR FEET – LITERALLY! An agate in Ulukhaktok, with visible banding and translucency. This is a sign of agate material in the area.

Like with the Ulukhaktok example, this is an agate from Tuktoyaktuk, which also shows there is agate material in the region.

I’ve made several contacts in the rockhounding world in my time in the hobby, and I sent a box of these Paulatuk stones to a friend in Michigan, Chuck Martin. He is an expert-level rock tumbler and polisher. In exchange for keeping his favourite one, he tumbled the stones for me. In his own words, they were a pain to polish. The agates of Paulatuk were not as ocean-worn as beach agates down south would be, likely because there is much less wave action in the Arctic (because the water’s frozen). My friend had to clean the stones regularly to get all the grit out of the crevices, and some agates broke down in the tumbler, never to be seen again. A stunning orange-red translucent agate from Sachs Harbour.

But he did get a handful finished close to his standards, and some of them are jawdroppers. And along with the agates, I had sent him a piece of petrified wood from Paulatuk, and he turned that into a necklace pendant. In other trips around the region, I’ve spotted agate material in Ulukhaktok and Tuktoyaktuk. Inuvik has pyrite, which many people find around the Children First Centre. And Sachs Harbour has both red jasper and agates – and some of the most beautiful, translucent agates I’ve seen. One is shown above. I hoped to spend more time hounding the communities in summer, but it was not meant to be. Instead, I encourage you to get out there and find rocks and crystals. This is a rich region, and these stones are valuable. I believe a cottage industry of polishing and selling agates, petrified wood, crystals and jasper could be developed here. I think they’d be a hit with tourists. And I know there is way more than I was able to find on my short trips. Once you get into rockhounding, you never look back, and you also never look up at the people you’re beach walking with either. It’s a fantastic hobby and the Arctic offers incredible opportunities to find rocks and crystals no one else on the planet can find. Hopefully this article inspires you to take a look down next time you’re at the beach, at a river or out on the land. There’s gold, diamonds and treasure under your feet – literally!

More polished agates and chert from Paulatuk. Agates from Paulatuk.


June 21st, 2019. Sheree McLeod designed the new artwork for Canada’s NRCan Satellite dish which featured art inspired by her uncle Abel Tingmiak on the blanket toss. Abel even took a turn standing on the blanket during the launch event on Indigenous Day. In total, Sheree’s artwork measures 13 meters across – certainly to be seen from miles away!


AIR INUVIALUIT PROUD, FAMILIAR STAFF OF CANADIAN NORTH There may be only about 6,000 Inuvialuit, but collectively under the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, they own a whole airline with Canadian North. We know its routes well by now, but not everyone gets a behind-the-scenes look at some of the staff. We spoke to some of our Inuvialuit family and friends working for Canadian North about their job, career path and any advice they may have for young aviation enthusiasts. Most of these interviews took place in late 2018. Since then, Canadian North and First Air, previously a company run by Makivik Corporation in Nunavik, have merged into one unified company. But under whichever name or colours, these are some proud, experienced Inuvialuit who have found a great career path, and they serve as an example of the heights you can reach with a little effort.



My name is Kamé Ann St-Cyr and I have been a flight attendant with Canadian North since July 2013. I was born in Yellowknife and adopted in infancy to parents who were both teachers at the time. They knew they would adopt children, as it was their dream to have a large family. My journey began with my father, who is French Canadian and grew up in Saskatchewan, and my mother, who was half-Polish and half-Slovenian and was born in Quebec. They loved adventure, which is what took them to numerous communities, including northern Quebec, before settling in Yellowknife. I was the first child to my parents. They then had my sister Renée, who is in the aviation industry as well, my brother Donald, who was also adopted and is Inuvialuit from Inuvik, and finally my baby brother Michaël. One of my father’s favourite lines when explaining the diversity of his family is, “I have two homemade and two God-given!” He adds, “They are all God-given and all homemade.” We grew up speaking both English and French. We moved to southern Saskatchewan after my mother passed away in 1985. It was the first time for many in these communities to see Inuit children. I consider myself very blessed. Although from time to time rude comments were noted, the deep roots of acceptance, tolerance and continued love throughout my childhood sustained me. We got called a bunch of names, but my father always taught us to treat others like we wanted to be treated. We are a very close family. My parents always let us know that if we ever wanted to meet our biological family, they would be there for us. We moved to Edmonton in 1997 when my father got a job with the government. I always had a love for flying and knew at one point I would be part of the industry. My sister has worked for First Air since 1998. But I put my dream of flying on hold to help take care of my grandmother. She suffered from dementia, and in order to better help take care of her, I decided to return to school to acquire my healthcare aid diploma. After her passing, there was a hiring freeze with the Health Services in Alberta. I was lucky I had previous

education in theatre production, which allowed me to generate income in the meantime. I was browsing online for employment and an ad was posted seeking Aboriginal candidates with Canadian North, so I applied. Here we are six years later and I’m loving every minute of being a flight attendant at Canadian North. The most important part of being a flight attendant is to ensure the safety of all our guests. Comfort and inflight service are big parts of my daily responsibilities. There are days that are more challenging than others, and I just have to go with the flow and accept whatever comes my way. But when you love what you do and you have a passion for your job, coming to work becomes effortless. My job also allows me to travel back and forth to Yellowknife and all over the North. Being able to work and represent the Inuit and being a role model for the younger generation brings me so much pride. My biological family is from Taloyoak, Nunavut, and being able to see my uncle James Eetooklook and my entire extended family on a regular basis brings me so much joy and has allowed my heart to become whole. My advice to any young Inuk thinking about pursuing a career in the field of aviation is to ensure you have your Grade 12 diploma, do some research on the airlines you might want to work for, look at flight routes, scheduling, pay and other aspects of the job. Anyone just starting has to remember they are at the bottom of the list and this sometimes means working holidays and sitting on-call. If these are not issues and flying is where you want to be, then I encourage anyone and everyone to apply. My favourite quote is, “It’s not enough to just be; you have to want to be something.” Have a dream and find a passion.



I’m Inuvialuit, from Inuvik. I’m a Lennie. There are a lot of us. My father has been a political figurehead with the Inuvialuit for years. Watching him and the influence he bestowed on us with his efforts gaged me to want to do that as well, but more so academically than politically. I’m fine with doing it in the background and don’t need my name on everything. Working for the Inuvialuit is something I take pride in. I’ve worked for Canadian North since 2014 in payroll and benefits, and now I’m merging into payroll analyst, because I’m also doing payroll for the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and Aklak Air. I spent 12 years with the Government of the Northwest Territories before this. I went to Canadian North because one of my goals was always to work for the Inuvialuit and contribute to an establishment my people created. It’s been great so far. They’re very supportive and have funded me working towards achieving my payroll compliance associate’s degree. Payroll is fun because it’s never the same. I go to Edmonton once or twice a month to help close off month-end. I also maintain their benefits. There is a

range of challenges, so I’m never bored. Everybody has to get paid, but not everyone is always happy with their pay, so that’s where people like myself and my coworkers come in to ensure everything is copacetic. With any kind of career focus, there’s always a balance you have to find between your personal life, your work and your academics. The biggest challenge I’ve had was balancing those three and staying sane. I set my academic standards very high and was used to getting high grades throughout school. In postsecondary, I failed a class, and that was a huge blow to my ego. My father gave me a piece of advice: failing is not failure – quitting is failure. I bucked up and said screw it, I’ll do it again. I passed and haven’t stopped since. If I could turn back time and redo everything, I would have pursued my education at a younger age, before starting my career. My advice in retrospect is to stay focused. If you want it bad enough, you’re going to get it, whether it be now or later. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, because shyness gets you nowhere. After growing up in Aklavik and Inuvik, I ventured out and didn’t let those little obstacles set limits for me. If you can break that, you’re going to be great.



I was born in Tuktoyaktuk, which is where my mom’s side of the family is from. My brother and I were raised in Calgary. After completing a travel and tourism course I moved up north and worked in a few different hotels in Yellowknife. Canadian North hired me when I was 24 where I worked as a customer service/operations agent for seven years and then transferred to Edmonton where I worked in cargo then hub operations. As soon as we get the numbers from cargo and the passenger count, we have to quickly plan the flights so the ramp agents can start loading the plane. Things can always go wrong, so you have to be fast at problem solving, but everyone who works in our office is very good at working together and fixing things quickly. Canadian North is our lifeline. I have a lot of family and friends in the North. They’re always travelling

back and forth between Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik, Yellowknife and Edmonton. The benefits we get as employees help a lot too. I can help family save money on flights, and I take a lot of pride in the fact we’re owned by the Inuvialuit. I have had to deal with some personal issues that came up over the years, but Canadian North stood behind me the whole time and let me take time off to deal with them. They’ve been really supportive, and I’ve had amazing managers. They give you access to the tools that you need to get through it and keep moving forward. For anyone looking to get into this career, I would definitely say go for it. It gives you the opportunity to travel. It’s so worth it. I’ve had so much fun being around the people in this company. It’s a big family where everybody knows everybody. And it’s so worth the benefits.


It is funny how something so simple can be so nostalgic. Every time I put on my uniform for work, the pride I feel wearing a freshly-pressed dress shirt and pants reminds me of my days as an air cadet some 30 years ago. Who knew I’d end up with a career in aviation? I have been a part of the Canadian North family since December 2013. Although I was laid off for two-and-a-half years when the oil market crashed, I kept my hopes high to be called back to work as a flight attendant. During my layoff, I applied for and got interviews with a couple of other airlines, but when I was asked if I would move to another city for work, I always ended up saying no. I wanted to stay with Canadian North, not only to be based out of Edmonton, but because I love working for a company that puts the North first. When an opportunity opened up to work at the Edmonton airport as a customer service agent, I took the job, happy to be staying with the company. I worked at the check-in counter for a year, which was a great experience. I didn’t realize all that it took to get a plane off the ground, let alone on time! Eventually, I got the call to come back to work as a flight attendant based out of Calgary. Despite not being in my home city, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to fly again and soon started my retraining. I commuted to Calgary for nine long months, most of it over the cold winter. I honestly didn’t want to be based in another city with another airline, but this callback meant staying with the family atmosphere at Canadian North, so off I went. Canadian North flies to many different North American destinations, mostly for charter flights, but my favourite routes are the ones to Canada’s Far North. Whether it be Inuvik, Cambridge Bay, Pond Inlet or

Iqaluit, there’s bound to be family on board. On the Western Arctic flights, elder passengers will really be watching me throughout the flight. Then they’ll touch my arm as I walk by and ask, “Who’s your mom?” When I tell them, “Ruby,” they respond with, “Ahh, you’re Ruby’s daughter!” A lot of Cambridge Bay passengers know my daduk, Buster Kailek, a reindeer herder from back in the day. No matter the flight, there are bound to be smiling faces from family and friends on board, and it always feels like home. To become a part of this family, you need to work hard with dedication and commitment. Aviation requires consistency and meticulous preparations from all of the flight crew. As a flight attendant, it was six weeks of classroom work, Monday to Friday. Quite often, classmates would get together in the evenings and on weekends to study and go through drills – my favourite part of training! Always practising and going over regulations to make sure we are prepared for any situation. The work can be tough and even stressful at times, but seeing happy passengers, travelling to the most remote parts of Canada and connecting communities is where my heart truly lies. I love my career and look forward to seeing you in the skies!



My name is Dawn Macfarlane. My maiden name is Hansen and my family is from Inuvik and originally Aklavik. I currently reside outside of Victoria on Vancouver Island. My father is a pilot as well, so growing up we moved around a lot between the Northwest Territories, Alberta and Ontario, and for all my high school years I lived in Australia. A big aspect of life for aviation families is you can see the world if you want to!

Canadian North, as an airline, is unique in many ways. We get to fly the 737 onto gravel and ice strips, and as a charter airline we can go to some very different destinations all over Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. As a pilot, one day you could be in Cambridge Bay at -30C, the next in Miami at +30C! The polar bear is all over the place! It keeps it fun, challenging and interesting.

After finishing my degree at the University of Calgary and my flight training process, I worked for Kenn Borek Air and was able to rotate out of Inuvik and fly for Aklak Air. I flew all over the North and went to the Maldives for a season too. I was given the amazing opportunity to fly for Canadian North early in my career, and came here in 2008.

It’s not easy to define what is hard about being a pilot – I think it’s easier to say that there are challenging aspects to the job. Weather conditions, especially in the North, can change very rapidly and unexpectedly, which creates bigger challenges for arrival and departure procedures. We are well-trained and have very clear guidelines as far as runway length and conditions, so it is never ‘unknown’ whether a landing or departure can be executed safely, but it is a continual decision-making process what the best course of action is. I think the easiest part of the job is looking out the window, seeing the amazing lands and waters we have in Canada. It’s truly the best office view.

I am a First Officer on the B737-200 and -300 series aircraft. It is my responsibility as a member of the flight crew to be fully trained and qualified to operate the aircraft safely in all flight conditions. This includes all normal and abnormal situations. When we arrive for a day of flying, we check the weather, look at the serviceability of the aircraft, brief the crew, visually check the aircraft and all its systems and check to see that all the navigational aids en route are available for navigation from departure airport to destination. It’s a multifaceted job that requires not only good piloting skills, but good communication, decisive skills, weather and aircraft knowledge to ensure your day-today flying is done safely. Every six months we go into a simulator to ensure that if anything does go wrong with the systems of the aircraft or we encounter any difficult situations that can happen in the air, we are fully trained and capable to deal with those situations.

The wonderful part about being a pilot is you take all your training, studying, experience and knowledge with you every time you fly, and when you reach your final destination of the day, and have done so safely and efficiently, your job is done successfully. There is a sense of accomplishment every day you go to work. There is a huge sense of pride that I work for Canadian North. It’s truly paramount. I was able to sit next to and fly with my father, who was one of the first Aboriginal jet pilots in Canada. It truly was an honour. Whenever I see a family member or friend from back home onboard, I am always proud to continue my dad’s profession, and I hope in turn, they are proud of me for that. And if I can

inspire any young Inuvialuit to follow their dreams, then even more the better. Now is a great time to start in aviation. The airline business in Canada is growing and there is immense opportunity to advance quickly in your career. If I had any advice, I would say that flying is a career as well as a way of life – it will take you all over the world if you want it to. Being a pilot takes you places, in the most literal sense, so your lifestyle is a part of what you do. That being said, it can take you away from home, or keep you there if you want it to. I always try to remind kids that if you have to go away from your home community for education, whether it be university, college or training, always remember it’s not leaving. If you are homesick, just know it is temporary, because you will gain that education and take it back home, and not only better yourself, but your community

as well. The education process is temporary; what you bring to your community is forever. Home will always be there. One of the most amazing moments of my life was taking off out of Inuvik for the first time in my professional career. I left years before, and came back with a degree, and this extraordinary ability to fly an airplane! There was an immense sense of not only self-worth, but a sense of place, home and family as well. If you are interested in becoming a pilot, it’s a unique profession as you can choose who you want to be within the industry – you could strive to fly the biggest airplane in the most exotic location, or the smallest in the most remote of places. You could aim to fly in your community, or as I do, take your family to and from the south. It is up to you. And I am always happy to help and chat with anyone who has any questions about becoming a pilot.



I’m from Tuktoyaktuk but have lived in Calgary since I was five years old. I regularly visit family and friends back in Tuk, Aklavik and Inuvik. After high school, I graduated from a two-year travel and tourism program at SAIT Polytechnic. During the first year of that program, I did a summer internship with Canadian North as a charter specialist. I have since progressed my way through the company and am currently a Calgary-based flight attendant. The majority of my flights are to the oil sands in Alberta. Some of my responsibilities are participating in a briefing before each flight with crew members, conducting safety checks of equipment on the aircraft and providing customer service onboard to the passengers. Expecting the unexpected is the hardest part about being a flight attendant. Anything can happen, such as IROPs (irregular operations), weather delays (especially where we fly in the North) and mechanical issues. All of these things are completely out of our hands. Being a mom of two little boys, it’s challenging to juggle both work life and mom life. The easiest part is definitely handling our type of passengers, who are already familiar with the fly-in, fly-out program for the oil sands. The majority of them have been flying with us for years and they are all so kind, friendly and just make our job so easy. Myself being Inuvialuit, I take pride in working for this company, because I still make frequent visits to the North. I visit my nan in Aklavik two or three times a year and I love bringing my children. It keeps us in touch with culture and traditional values, and it reminds us of the importance of family. The airline I work for brings me to see my family, which I find so precious. Aviation is always growing. If you want to see more places in the world and experience travel, definitely pursue a career in aviation. The benefits are well worth it!


I started at Canadian North when I was 19 as a customer service agent in 2002. In 2003, I went to operations and then was invited into the inflight department in 2004, which is where I’ve been to the present day. I’m the daughter of Lucy Poshtar, maiden name Chicksi, and Richard Poshtar and based in Calgary. I’m lucky to work with this company and be part of this airline. The benefits allow my mother to visit family in Inuvik, and they allow me to take a vacation anywhere I like. The hardest part of the job would be the different climates. It could be 40C in Ottawa, and then you fly to Iqaluit that afternoon at -10C. One extreme to the other! I really enjoy being a flight attendant and working for a Northern-based airline. The easiest thing about my job is the hours. I wake up at 3 a.m. most days for check-in at 4:45 a.m., but then I’m done work by 9 a.m. or noon! I get to be home every evening with my family, which not many flight attendants can say.



My favourite childhood memories are those of living at our outpost camp, Halahekvik. My late father, George Okheena, was a fox trapper, and thinking about living that lifestyle is wonderful. I loved going out to check the traps with my dad. I especially loved when he would walk with me to check the traps that were close by the cabin. I presently live in the city of Edmonton. I walk on concrete, far away from the land that holds my family’s footprints. I know that home is always there, waiting for me when I need to reconnect with home, family and the land. I am now seeing the world from 33,000 feet in the air and I have been for the past 16 years. My life is one where I am packing, unpacking and packing yet again. Some may feel a sense of tiredness just reading that last sentence but I thrive on it. I feel fortunate not to be encased in four walls. My choice to leave my home of Uluhaktok all those many years ago was the best decision that I could have made. Leaving the comfort and stability of home forced me to make hard choices. Being a young Inuk girl leaving a small, isolated Arctic community was a daunting thing to do. Thankfully I stuck with my choices and I didn’t give into fear or homesickness. Those first hard decisions have given me the foundation to live the life I have today. Through my job as a flight attendant for Canadian North I have had the opportunity to experience all that Canada has to offer. I have been to all the corners of our beautiful and vast country. I’ve flown from Alert, Nunavut, to the west coast, where I have watched orcas swimming in the Pacific Ocean. I’ve seen humpback whales and puffins – I fell in love with them – in Witless Bay, Newfoundland. I’ve seen the Niagara Falls, landed on an ice strip, flown above icebergs around Baffin Island. I’ve eaten

smoked meat sandwiches and fresh bagels in Montreal. I have been fortunate enough to have done charters to Greenland, Alaska, Yukon, South Carolina, Oregon, Nevada, Florida and Mexico. I’ve served pink champagne and caviar. There are so many great memories. Life as a flight attendant is one where you get to play tourist in whatever city or town you may be but it’s also hard work. The majority of the time you have very early mornings. People have connecting flights so your headstart flights (first flight of the day) begin very early. As an airline, we must get people from Point A to Point B with their safety as our first priority. As aircrew, we must thoroughly understand our responsibilities. The safety of the passengers is first and foremost; therefore, we must take our training very seriously. This means that we are present for our training. The types of training we must do are recurrent annual training, first aid, crew resource management and line checks. If anything is unclear in our training it’s very important to seek clarification. Like in any situation, especially in relation to flying passengers, assumptions should never be made. Ask questions to ensure everyone is on the same page. I am very proud of the pilots and flight attendants at Canadian North, as we work as one crew to ensure passenger safety. As with following daily operating procedures to make certain that we deliver the best service we can, I feel that personal health is very important. You must take responsibility for your well-being. This means getting adequate sleep. This can be difficult at times as every hotel is different, some more comfortable than others. Sometimes you don’t want to say goodbye to friends

and family but getting rest is the wise choice. So it’s easy to understand that exercise, diet and self-care are big priorities. As a flight attendant, I need to instil confidence in the passengers that I am able to ensure that they fly in the safest manner possible, so I need to be as healthy as I possibly can. I get my motivation from my colleagues, and I’m thankful for that. Working for an Inuvialuit-owned company is a great source of pride. I recognize the hard work the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation does to ensure ownership. It gives one a sense of independence. Having cultural identity, a firm sense of where you come from, pride in yourself – these are the building blocks for your self-determination. It’s very important to remember the sacrifices and especially the teachings of our elders, some who have passed on. They worked hard to keep our traditions alive. We are here because they never gave up. I hope we all do our part to carry forth their determination, their goodwill, the love of the land and family and the humility that is so much a part of life in Arctic Canada.

My advice to anyone who is in high school or who is thinking of a career in aviation or any other field, is go to school. Go to school every day and do your homework. Ask for help when you need it. Your teachers are there to teach you, to help you understand how things work. It’s very important to know that your education doesn’t end with your high school diploma. If you want a job in healthcare, trades or business, you will need to further your education. Education will open doors for you. Further advice is to meet people, talk to people and remember their names. Watch people, be open-minded and ask questions. See what worked for them, and maybe it will work for you. Seek out mentors and people you respect. Most importantly is to surround yourself with supportive friends. People who doubt your ability, who tell you that you can’t do it, do not belong in your life. Never accept judgment or negativity. These things get in the way of what is possible, good things. Believe in yourself and your abilities and pursue what it is that you want.



I am from Tuktoyaktuk but currently live in Beaumont, Alberta. I started working as a flight attendant for Canadian North in Edmonton seven years ago. I had the opportunity to fly all over the North and south and enjoyed attending to everyone on the many flights. However, when I met the love of my life and we decided to have children, I decided to switch into a customer service position so that I could be home each night with my family. I have three beautiful children now, Jayton, Kobe and Mila. I was always interested in working in the aviation industry and becoming a flight attendant. We started off with a six-week training program for flight attending. It was challenging but I was determined to complete the training and work in my desired job. This was my first professional job after I graduated from high school. One day, when my children are older, I may go back to being a flight attendant but I also love what I am doing now. I still get the chance to see and meet many friendly people flying on Canadian North flights and assist them to check in and board the planes. Flying can be stressful for some and it’s important to make sure that you provide them with great customer service and reassure them that everything will be okay. I love working at Canadian North and can see myself advancing into the administration department one day. I have wonderful co-workers and I like the flexible hours too. As an Inuvialuit, I’m proud to work for an Inuvialuit owned company. Living in the south is hard sometimes and I get homesick, but Canadian North keeps me connected to family and friends. My advice to youth is to stay in school and get a solid education. It will help you reach your goals. If you have a desire to have a career in a particular area, reach out for it and never give up on your dreams. Anything is possible as long as you try your best. It is also important to balance work and life. Family is important, too, and you can be successful with both a family and a career.


QANUQITPIHI! I REMEMBER one time when I was hosting Suaangan and Uncle Edward Lennie phoned me and said “Qanuqitpihi.” I knew it was some kind of greeting and fumbled over some kind of reply. He told me it means “how is everybody?” He went on to say that Siglit use “S” and Ummungmuit WORDS BY use “H,” hence the different DENNIS ALLEN pronunciation. He said he was calling to correct me ‘cause I was opening my Suaangan show by saying “How are you?” instead of “how is everybody?” I sure miss hearing my dad and his friends speaking “Eskimo,” as they used to call it. They would laugh like hell and slap their knees. Even though I never understood them, it felt comfortable knowing my dad, and by extension, myself, were rooted in our culture. I hope everyone had a good summer. I was just talking to Floyd Sidney, who was working in Inuvik for the summer, and he says there are hardly any boats on the river. I remember when the river was like a highway and how many boats were always coming and going. In June, everyone would be hauling stuff down to the coast for whaling. I know I haven’t been home in a while but I still get lonesome when I think of getting ready to go to the coast. I haven’t written for a while but in my last writing I was talking about the problems we still face as Inuvialuit. Like I said, we’ve come a long way from Frobisher Bay.

People, don’t you know what I mean? She had the boys all crying on the distant early warning line; Muktuk Annie could really make the scene. Sorry, I got carried away with that Bob Ruzicka song. Anybody remember Bob Ruzika playing in Semmler’s Store? Anyway, like I was saying, though we’ve come a long way in terms of education and self-government, we’ve still got a long way to go. The reason I say that is because I work in a federal prison here in Alberta and I’m still seeing our young men coming down here. They actually are coming from all over the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. I do programming with them and we work together to try and figure out why they commit their crimes. And what we are finding out is that we carry a lot of shame, and shame is a big ingredient to destructive lifestyles. What we found out when we really dug deep was our shame began long before we were born. Our shame began when the first whalers and traders started coming around. At first, it was a good relationship. We showed them how to live in our country. Our women sewed for them and the men taught them how to hunt and survive on the land. But it slowly turned on us. Over time, we became dependent on them for rifles, shells, rope, matches, canvas, tea, sugar, coffee, flour, etc. We couldn’t live without them. Soon, the traders and their way of life began to erode the true Inuvialuit way of life and we began to lose our identity and independence. I must say, however, that Slim Semmler was the exception. He stayed and lived with us and married into our people. Slim saved a lot of lives by extending credit. I’m sure there are a few others, but there were many who came and went.


More dangerous was when the whalers introduced us to alcohol. I remember stories from my dad about how they taught his grandfather how to make moonshine and home brew and how they used to have big parties at special times of the year. It sounded like fun but underneath that there was a lot of abuse: spousal assault, sexual assault, child neglect and child sexual abuse. A lot of those abuses were brought on by the whalers themselves who took advantage of the friendly Inuvialuit. That was the beginning of what we call historical shame – shame that was not processed, understood or corrected that is passed on from one generation to the next. People didn’t talk about it. They just swallowed it and it stayed with them until it surfaced as anger, rage, resentment, drinking, more abuse and pain. Then we went a little further and started talking about when the churches came in. Again, at first, it was a good relationship. People were happy to exchange their superstitious beliefs for what the Bible was teaching. To them, it made sense to believe in Jesus and follow his teachings. But what followed was what even today is being referred to as a cultural genocide. A genocide is when one culture imposes itself on another culture and takes it over, literally killing it. What I’m referring to was the practice of taking kids from their families and putting them in residential schools, away from their homes and ways of life, sometimes for years at a time. I was looking for pictures of the inmates’ relatives so we could put them up on the wall when I came across pictures from the residential school in Hay River. I found a picture of one of the guys’ grandmother. Her head was shaved and even though she was trying to smile, you could see the pain and hurt in her eyes. I don’t know how many years she stayed there but she must have been there for a long time. Try to imagine your kids being away from you that long and how much hurt you would have, let alone how the kids must have felt abandoned and neglected. I can’t imagine the shame that would bring to a family. I know a lot of people, including my mom, said they had nothing but good to say about residential school. But the number of people who had bad experiences far outweighs the good. I remember interviewing an elder in Fort Good Hope one time about his experience in residential school. He showed me a scar on his lip where a nun hit him with a fire poke because he was hungry and trying to steal food. That was not near as bad as some of the other stories that came out of residential schools. When we were kids, there was a supervisor in a residential school in Inuvik who was sexually abusing little boys. Most of those guys have committed suicide or are street people now. Imagine being the parents of those kids, or the children themselves. Back then no one questioned the church.

They just swallowed that shame. Again, we said people were “tough.” But underneath was a sea of shame and hurt. So it’s hard to say that residential school doesn’t play a role in our historical shame. We also had to look at what widespread epidemics did to our people. Entire villages were eradicated with simple flu viruses because we had no immunity to foreign diseases. A lot of children were orphaned, and a lot of mothers and fathers lost their children. The entire social fabric of our community was destroyed. How can a parent not feel shame for losing a child? How can a child not feel shame for not having parents? Even in those days. We always think people had no feelings in the past ‘cause it was so long ago. Go ask an elder how they felt to be orphaned, or to lose a child. We say they are “tough” but underneath is a world of pain and shame. We can see it in them as they walk up town by themselves. Inside them is a rumble so loud that it drowns out their voices. So what happens when people cannot process or understand that shame? Remember that shame is an emotion and emotions need to be expressed for people to live healthy lifestyles. We can’t hide our secrets, because we are as sick as our secrets. When I read the police reports of the crimes these guys have committed, I see where the shame comes out. It comes out as self-hatred, violence, low self-esteem, alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual assaults, vicious attacks on others, murder and manslaughter, just to name a few. And that’s not to mention the people in our communities, people who walk around with their head down, who are so burdened with shame. Shame is a powerful emotion that demands attention. As human beings, we learn ways to stifle it because it is such an uncomfortable and uneasy feeling. We don’t like to feel like that, so we have to supress that feeling somehow. I know for me alcohol was a perfect way to kill those feelings I had in myself. Whenever shame would rear its ugly head, I would just go to the bar and kill it with booze and good times. But all the time I was crying on the inside. I’m not going to go into detail about how I got my shame, ‘cause that’s my business. The fact remains I have it and it almost destroyed my life. I could not drink anymore (I entered stage three alcoholism when I quit) but I was still not ready to reveal my secrets to anyone. I didn’t trust anyone, nor did I love myself enough to get and accept help. So naturally I found other addictions to cure my ill. Again, I’m not going to go into detail. If you are reading this, you know what I’m talking about. I had to find another addiction because my shame was so powerful that I had to somehow medicate it. The addiction I chose, or the addiction that chose me, began to create more


shame over my behaviour. I was using another sickness as a cure for my alcoholism. The cure became the poison, and I got sicker and sicker. As I did, I hurt more and more people. Addiction is a cruel beast. It cares nothing for people’s feelings, worth or self-dignity. All it cares about is being fed. You, as a person, no matter where you come from, what you’ve done, how people look up to you, how much money you have, who your parents are, what you drive, means nothing. Because the addict is in total and absolute control. No matter how much you want to quit and how much it’s hurting you and people around you, you have no control. “Give me more, now,” it screams in your head. That plays over and over in your head. What we are finding out, with the help of our prison psychologist, is that the addict is actually our egos. And ego is a part of our being that is supposed to make us feel good about ourselves. It was designed so we can comb our hair in the morning, put on clean clothes, don’t slurp when you eat your soup, or tuck your shirt in at church. It’s designed to give us dignity. Otherwise, we’d be walking around with no clothes on taking a dump anywhere we want, like an animal, and caring nothing for ourselves or our society. I did not want to give up my addiction. It felt too good. It was the only thing that made life bearable. If I didn’t have it, then I would have to face myself. The truth was too painful. Withdrawal was off the table. I simply could not handle not having my drug. Because by that time, my body had become used to it and expected it at a regular interval. I actually went into physical withdrawal (moody, uneasy, angry, rageful) when I didn’t have it. That’s where the ego comes in. Instead of looking after me like it was designed to do, my ego began to control me. It began to tell me that it wasn’t that bad. “Your hangover is not that bad. You’ll get over it. You are not an addict. You’re entitled to do what you want to do. They can’t tell you what to do. They’re not the boss of you. You know what you’re doing. Leave him alone.” My ego began to outgrow its original purpose and soon was making all my decisions. My true self was suppressed. The guy who wanted to do the right thing, the guy who wanted respect, the guy who at his core was a good person, was squashed and ignored. At the core of every man, woman and child, is a light that wants to shine, to do the right thing, to help others, to be a good person. Some people call it God; others call it Creator, Allah or whatever your language or belief is. It is the fundamental driving force of life. That goes the same for ego. Some people call it the devil in you, the negative side of man, the lower side of man’s being,

because it can turn on you and kill you. And what feeds that negative side of us is shame. If we don’t start looking at our shame and bringing it into the light, then it will grow and fester in the dark. Our secrets will kill us. That’s what we do here. We start the painful but essential task of unearthing our shame. Because if we don’t, these people will go back to their communities and their shame will rear its ugly head. They will continue their destructive behaviour. And ultimately, someone will get hurt. But very rarely is it just someone; it becomes someone and their family, someone and their kids, someone and their community, someone and … ad infinitum. As we go through this, I share my story with them. As fortunate as I am to be on this side of the fence, I’m still not immune to the “yet” syndrome of an addict. As addicts, we look at others and say “I’m not as bad as them.” But we forget the word “yet.” Because if you continue on your road to destruction, you will arrive at “yet,” sooner or later. The thing about addiction is that it is incurable. You cannot take a pill to get better. It is also progressive. It gets worse. The alcoholic doesn’t start drinking by lying on the side of the road in a dead drunk from Lysol. He starts off sneaking a little sip of beer here and there, and then it progresses over the years. The last truth about addiction is that it is fatal. It will kill you, sooner or later. If I didn’t stop my addiction, it would eventually kill me. The first thing I had to do when I wanted to stop my addiction was to admit to my very core that I was powerless over my addiction and my ego. I had to put the truth on the table and look it square in the eye and say, “You win. You are more powerful than me. My life is unmanageable when I am in my addiction.” And with that, I had to walk away from it. But more important, I had to find others who had walked away from it and follow their advice on how they stay away from it. What they tell me is that I have to admit every morning before my ego and my brain start to tell me that I’m okay and that I can handle just one, that I am powerless over my addiction and it makes my life unmanageable. I also pray to that little light inside me that wants to be good. And the more I pray, the bigger that flame gets. I have to follow that voice in my head that tells me to do the next right thing. I have to follow my higher power. For me, my higher power is love. The love I have for you, and the love you have for me. It’s that simple. All I need to do is do the next right thing, whether that means making amends for all the damage I’ve done, all the hurt I’ve caused, all the shame I carried. It will slowly disappear and life and love will naturally follow.


June 9th, 2019. Bernard Andreason drum dances at the reconciliation ceremony welcoming him and honouring his late friends, Dennis Dick and Lawrence Jack Elanik. The three “lost boys� ran away from Stringer Hall residential school in 1972. Bernard was the only one to survive their treacherous journey to Tuktoyaktuk. Saliqmiut Drummers and Dancers of Tuktoyaktuk (with dancer Catherine Katigakyok in the background) marked the reconciliation ceremony, organized by East Three Secondary School.


ARCTIC FOLKLORE Students’ stories of myths, legends and happenings from around the North

Have you heard of the little people in the mountains? Is there more under the ice than water, seals and fish? What is the meaning of the northern lights’ dance? We teamed up with East Three Secondary School English teacher Megan McCaffery and students in her e-learning class to delve into folklore and legends. Students were tasked with either retelling a legend their elders had told them, creating their own or telling a story with a lesson at the end, which is typical of folklore. In the following pages, eight students share their stories of myths, adventures and all-out-weird occurrences in the North.

Art by Jimmy Jacobson, 1988


This is a made-up story, but the part about grandmother Agnes having gifts (being a shaman) is true. I decided to create a story about her and the fact that she was a good person who helped people in any way she could. In fact, I am named after her! She was my father’s grandma. I asked my dad one day if he knew about any stories of shamans in our town, both good and bad, and he mentioned something about Agnes Negiyok. He was not too sure if she was a shaman, but many people suspected she was able do special things.


From the soft warm breeze to the smell of fresh water and the thirst-quenching, sweet-but-bland taste of the ripe blue, red and black berries, 11-year-old Christine and her older brother Angus had been out all morning wandering, exploring and finding berry patches for their mother’s pie, pancakes and muffins.

child and can not be reached. The kids have never been out this late, and always knew what could happen if they did not make it back in time before sunset.

Hours pass without any realization, picking one-by-one, putting three in the bag, eating three and putting another three in. The pair fill their bags to the top with every colour of berry. The sun starts to go down, day turns to night, thick white fog slowly rolls in from the top of the hill and both decide to walk back. Miles from town and surrounded by fog, they start to feel confused and lost. As it gets darker, an eerie feeling gets more intense. As the sun sets and fog covers the two, they could not see through the haze. Sitting around the table with cups full of steaming hot tea, their mother Elizabeth, baby Joyce and grandmother Agnes start to worry. Their father Alex is out camping with the oldest

Words by Alexandria Banksland

The hand strikes 3 a.m. and they are still not back. Still walking in the blur, slowly losing their sense of security and direction, Christine trips over a twig sticking out of the ground and twists her ankle. A stomach-crunching, breathless feeling hits grandmother Agnes. She rushes to her bedroom and grabs tools that were passed on from her grandmother, walks outside, then, down the road to the shoreline. Tears rolls down Elizabeth’s cheeks as she watches her mother set her cane down, take a bag out of her pocket and lay it out in front of her, grabbing a rabbit foot and feather from the bag. She then places it on her lap and says a prayer. Grabbing small rocks, she

makes a picture in the sand, shaking her bag now full of pebbles. She sways back and forth, eyes closed, talking to the animals and communicating with the spirits. She shouts and prays, “Munagiilugin tapkua!” A moment later, a raven is flying above in circles. Miles away, hurt and lost, Christine is breathing heavily, leaning on Angus as they walk. The thoughts flowing through their mind become stronger and louder than everything around them. Not even the dim, cold, emotionless, empty fog surrounding them could affect how they feel. The thought of not making it back home makes them unaware of what was around them and fills the empty, cold space with hopelessness and concern. But it was no longer just fog; they were walking through their thoughts. After walking for what seems like forever, the children decide to rest and wait for the fog to pass. Through the thick white fog, a small black figure appears in the distance, slowly getting larger.

grabbed Christine by the arm and they start to run, hoping to be lost in the fog. A faint noise is heard but they keep running, tripping over bumps and stepping in pools of brown water. They realize they cannot outrun the wolves. They stop, tear after tear rolling down their blushed cheeks, hugging each other as tight as they can, and they pray for their safety, for one another, and to their family, thanking God for their life, for the things they had and most importantly remembering how much they were loved and how much they gave. In a moment of peace, the tears stop, and the faint noise becomes much louder. In the midst of this commotion, they recognize the noise: their grandmother’s voice. There is a burst of laughter. Their rosy-red cheeks and blue-stained teeth smile as a heartwarming feeling fills the air. The figures in the distance become more prominent. Angus helps his little sister up and says, “Annanatiaq hamaniituk.”

Christine notices this figure, waves her hands in the air and shouts, “We’re over here! Qairuit!”

They notice a raven flying above, then two, then three. They all land, staring at the children. Christine tells Angus they must follow them. With the guidance of the birds, they find a cabin.

The figure turns into three people, then four and they start coming toward the children, faster and faster. Angus squints through his thick, round glasses with an uneasy feeling and realizes the figures were not human but a pack of wolves. He

The hungry wolves continue to chase them both, faster and faster, their growls becoming louder and louder by the second. Banging on the door, kicking and kicking until the lock budge, Christine and Angus run in for safety.


CHA CHA Words by Kennen Andre Blake There was once an elderly couple who had two beautiful daughters. Every year, they would go to the lake to pick berries. The older daughter would always stand by the lake, gazing upon it but never saying anything. One day, she disappeared without notice. Her family spent months and months looking for her. As the seasons changed, the family eventually had to leave. They returned to the lake for years to look for their daughter and had no luck. One year, the elderly woman was by the lake when she suddenly saw a beautiful woman emerge from the water. The woman told the elder this is where she now lives and to stop looking for her. She told her mother that she was happy there and has two children, a boy and girl. The elderly woman was happy to know that her daughter was well and that she was now a grandmother. One early morning, the grandmother woke to the sound of splashing and playing. She knew that these were her grandchildren. She wanted to see them. She began to scheme. She wanted to keep her grandchildren to make up for losing her daughter, but the children did not want to be near her. She knew she could prepare a potion that would allow the children to become tame and she would then be allowed to keep them. The grandmother spent the rest of the day going through the forest gathering the herbs and plants needed to make the potion. She

then grabbed her basket of herbs and plants and went by the lake and started digging a hole until it was deep enough to hide in. She took her basket of potions into the hole and waited. After a while, the children came across the hole. The granddaughter was more cautious and unsure about passing it, but the grandson was more bold and courageous and was not afraid to pass by. The boy eventually convinced his sister to pass by. Just as they were passing, the old woman splashed the children with the potion. The boy had a lot of the potion get on him and it worked on him. The girl, on the other hand, only had a bit get on her, resulting in her getting turned into a little puppy dog. The grandmother was finally able to speak to her grandchildren. She told the boy that she was his grandmother and that the small puppy dog was his sister, his Cha Cha. She then told him that they were going to stay with their grandfather. The grandfather taught the boy to hunt with a bow and arrows that he made himself. One day, while the boy was out hunting with his puppy dog, the dog wouldn’t give the arrow she had retrieved back, so the boy hit her out of anger. The dog ran away into the woods crying. The boy immediately realized that he did something wrong and began running through the woods calling for his Cha Cha. It is believed that the boy turned into a chickadee and makes this sound to look for his sister.

LEGEND OF THE HOOF LADY Words by Greg Jr. Villeneuve One spooky, dark night, an old man from Fort Resolution was travelling to High Level in his navy Ford F-150. He saw a woman ahead on the road hitchhiking, drove up to her and picked her up. “Do you want a ride?” he asked. “Yeah,” the woman replied in a deep voice. She went in the back door to sit down on the seat, and the old man turned to grab garbage from the floor so the woman could sit down. Then he noticed that she had abnormally weird looking feet and had to look twice to see if he was hallucinating. But he wasn’t – she had hooves for feet! The man was scared and shocked, so he told her to get out of his truck. When he kicked her out, she started to walk along the road, looking very mad. When the old man drove away, he noticed that she was galloping at him with her hoof feet. He thought that he was going to die! He put his foot on the pedal until he was going 110 kilometres per hour and she couldn’t catch up to him. Finally, he slowed down when he couldn’t see her, and he went on with his trip to High Level. This was his craziest and scariest encounter with a mythical creature.

To relate to this story, I had an experience like this too when my dad, Greg Sr. Villeneuve, was driving from Yellowknife back to Fort Resolution with me. My dad drove to Yellowknife to pick me up from the airport and bring me back home to Fort Resolution. I got picked up around 5 p.m. and then we left back home. I was exhausted from playing at a soccer tournament, so I went to sleep on the trip back home. It then got dark out while we were on our way; it was pitch black with no street lights anywhere, and all we had was the high beams on the car. When my dad was driving in the middle of nowhere, he saw a girl walking on the road all alone. He didn’t stop to check on who she was and continued on with the trip back home. 30 minutes later, he saw the same girl. This time, she wasn’t walking – she was running or galloping towards us! At the time, I was sleeping in the passenger seat, but my dad wasn’t scared. He just kept on driving and didn’t bother stopping to see what her problem was. We arrived in Hay River before he told me about what happened. These stories that people have told me make me not want to let any hitchhiking strangers into my vehicle.



On a bright, blithesome day in Coral Harbour, my family decided to go on a seemingly endless fishing derby trip. After a lengthy snowmobile ride and tons of tissues – I cried the whole way – we arrived at the campsite. We stayed at my mom’s friend’s cabin, but when we got there, the cabin was filled to the brim with powdery snow. My dad and brother were too broad to fit through the tiny window, so my sister crawled in. Once inside, she kicked the door open so we could get in. Snow that was piled against the door fell out onto the ground, making room for the two men to shovel out the excess. When the cabin was warm and ready, my mom and I decided to start fishing. After spending at least 10 minutes ice fishing, I spotted my brother’s girlfriend four or five ice holes away. I decided to approach her to say “hi.”

As I was walking and gazing around, I suddenly felt my right foot go much deeper in the snow than my left foot was. I heard a splash and felt freezing water splatter my face. I realized that I had stepped into an ice hole! Thoughts trembled around my mind that I was going to have my whole body fall into the ice hole. My eyes darted around the area, making sure that no one had witnessed the humiliating step into the water. Not a single soul had come towards me to see if I was okay. Because of that, I picked myself up and speedily ran back to the cabin we were staying in. I finally felt warm when my mom took my boot off my freezing foot and I had to wipe the tears off of my face. Looking back now, I can laugh at what happened, and this whole adventure made me realize that I should always be watching the steps I’m taking in life, and I should bring an extra pair of boots.

LIGHT RABBITS Words by Jolan Kotchea Image by Kristian Binder

One chilly spring night when I was 10, my family and I were driving back from town. Along the way, I saw lots of rabbits on the Liard Highway. All of a sudden my dad pulled the car over and everyone started to get out. Curious about what they were all doing, I joined them outside and followed their gaze up to the sky. To my amazement, above us were the northern lights, the biggest ones I had ever seen in my life. While my mom was watching the lights, she began to tell me a folktale that she had learned from her dad, my grandpa. This is what she told me: “The northern lights shine bright, as if they were the sun of the night. They dance high in the sky. They dance very fast and it just might make you want to move with them. The bigger the northern lights become, the faster they dance.

It is like seeing big ocean waves flowing through the sky. After hours of dancing, the northern lights begin to calm down and become a bit smaller. They come down to the ground because they are tired from all of their dancing. It makes the night sky very happy when the northern lights dance. Each time the northern lights touch the ground, rabbits appear, rabbits are born or rabbits walk off of the northern lights. That’s why there are lots of rabbits in the North, because the rabbits come from the northern lights and join the wildlife in the forest.� This was the first time I had ever heard this folktale, and all of a sudden I finally understood why there were so many rabbits in the North. Now every time I see a rabbit or the northern lights, I am reminded of this folktale and this special memory I have with my family of that night we were driving home.



They say that a wolverine stole a child once back in the old days. One day, a newlywed husband and wife were expecting a baby. While the wife was pregnant, she was craving moose tripe, so she begged her husband to go find and kill a moose for its tripe. So a day later, the husband went hunting for a moose. He hunted and searched for moose but he didn’t see any. While he was hunting, the wife and his mother-in-law stayed back at the camp. The daughter-in-law asked her mother to search for lice in her hair, and while the mother was looking, the daughter fell asleep. When she went to sleep, the mother had an awl made out of the leg bone of a loon. While she had the awl, she grabbed an axe and placed it beside her feet. The mother was having second thoughts about it, but she changed her mind and

placed the awl on her daughter’s ear, then pounded it with an axe and killed her own daughter! The son-in-law was still out hunting all day. The mother-in-law made a fire and tore off her daughter’s hair right to the scalp. When she had the hair off, she placed her daughter’s hair on her head and tried to act like she was the husband’s wife. Before the husband got home, the mother-in-law buried her daughter, then went back to the fire and waited for her son-in-law to get home. When he got home, the son-in-law assumed she was his wife, but the mother-in-law was ignoring him. He got mad and pulled her hair, making it come off. He noticed it was his mother-in-law. He soon noticed his wife was dead, so he killed his mother-inlaw for killing his wife.

After he killed her, he saw traces of blood and found his wife buried outside, so he dug her out. He felt her stomach, and the baby was still alive, so he cut her stomach open and took the baby out. A couple of days later, the husband packed up their stuff, wrapped the baby in rabbit skin and carried him out of camp.

Days of travelling later, he finally found the wolverine’s home. But in it, he saw another version of himself, because they say a wolverine is a trickster and could change into a human. The wolverine had transformed into the father and had been impersonating him to the baby, saying, “I am your real father.”

While travelling on the land, the father would hunt for food for the baby and himself. As the months went on, the baby grew bigger and then was able to crawl. The father saw grouse flying, so he left the baby by a tree and killed a grouse. When he came back, the baby was gone. He knew a wolverine would take the baby, because that’s what they do when a mother-in-law kills her own daughter. He rushed after his baby, because that was the only thing that mattered to him.

The real father went running to the wolverine and threw him into the fire. He ran to his baby and took him back. They were both starving, but the father knew he was near home, and a day later they got home safely and did not think of the wolverine again. They say the reason the wolverine takes children is because they follow the survivors of murders, until the young ones are left alone. They will trick the baby by looking like the parent or someone else. Wolverines are known to be tricksters, always outsmarting people.


INUAGULIT Words by Mitchell Inuktalik

When I was a kid, I was always hearing these weird stories about a group of people called the Inuagulit (or Inuaguliks, as I call it), meaning Little People. It is said by the elders that there are a whole lot of them at two locations: Huluaguk and Pedutak. There is a cabin at Huluaguk, and on one perfect summer night, a couple was staying there while making their way home from a camping trip farther down in Prince Albert Sound.

They were tired and exhausted from the long boat trip. They brought what they needed into the cabin, and it is said that just before they fell asleep, the roof of the cabin began to get hit by hundreds of little rocks. The pelting lasted 10 seconds, while the couple were screaming in complete fear. When the rocks finally stopped, the man immediately ran outside with his rifle, but he saw nothing in sight, and there were no foot prints as far as the eye could see in the grass.

THE LITTLE PEOPLE Words by Lucyann Okheena

Georgina had always heard the stories about the little people. They were popular myths to talk about when someone wanted to tell a scary story or scare their little siblings. However, there were quite a few people who really believed they had encountered a little person. They would never see them in the flesh, though, because the little people would vanish right away and the observer would be left with a severe sickness. Georgina never quite understood or believed in these myths, because how can it be possible for a small-sized human to live among us and seemingly vanish whenever they want?

unbearable. The small family of five – Emma, Charles, the twins Tom and Harriet, and of course Georgina – got out of their boat and made their way towards the berry patches. Georgina could tell something particularly important was going to happen that day but she did not know why or what it was. She felt it in her core, the feeling you get when you’re nervous for your first job interview.

But then it happened, one afternoon when she went boating with her family to Ahagniakvik on a berry-picking trip. The little hillside is just outside the small town of Ulukhaktok. Ahagniakvik is very beautiful, with sky-high cliffs and berry patches every five steps. There was a little bit of a breezy wind, which in the end was good because on hot days it would be

Georgina sighed petulantly and stomped towards the boat, grabbing the items that her mother told her to grab and runs back up shouting, “I got them!” Emma grabbed the jars out of Georgina’s hands and passed one each to Georgina’s two younger siblings and father. One by one they started running up to the closest berry bushes and immediately started picking them.

“Georgina, can you pass me the jars, in the boat next to the seat?” Emma yelled.



While Charles was picking the berries, the twins were eating them happily instead of putting them in their jars. “Georgina, go pick up berries from the top of the hill. Your father and I can’t walk that far, you know how old people get,” the mother said while walking towards one of the closer bushes. She started walking up the large hill like her mother had advised her and immediately saw a variety of berries, ranging from raspberries to blueberries to blackberries. Georgina walked towards the raspberries and started to pick at them, only picking the ones that were fully ripe. When she looked at the berries filled in her jar, she could have sworn that it was half full but it looked to be only a quarter way. Georgina pushed the slight uneasiness and confusion aside and started to pick more berries. The first time she heard rustling in the bush, she put it off as a small breeze flowing through the air, but as it turned into a continuous rustling, Georgina decided to investigate. When she pushed the bush to the side, what she saw shocked her. Right in front of her was what seemed like a little person biting into a berry way too big for him. The tiny figure froze, looking at Georgina with wide, innocently terrified eyes, and vanished. It must’ve been over 30 minutes since her encounter with the little person and Georgina still couldn’t move. She was in a catatonic state. She couldn’t think and found it hard to breathe, even though there was a never-ending supply of air all around her. It wasn’t until her mother called out for the third time that it was getting late that she realized what just happened. THE LITTLE PEOPLE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 69

It was real. She wasn’t dreaming. She didn’t hallucinate. The little person was real and she just experienced it. There were many emotions running though her body, but the one that she could focus on was the fear, because she had heard all the stories that people tell about these tiny creatures. “If you see them, you will get sick!” “They will bring you bad luck!” “We don’t know exactly what they look like, but if we saw one, I’d bet they look right out of your nightmares!” Georgina finally got up, grabbed her jar that was now at the halfway mark and made her way down the hill not caring if she stepped on hard rocks or in muddy puddles. The only thoughts she had on her mind were, ‘Will I get sick?’ and ‘Will I die from this unknown sickness?’ “Are you okay, Georgie?” Charles asked worriedly. “You look pale,” Harriet added. “Yeah,” Georgina replied halfheartedly. Her parents looked at each other, concerned about their daughter, who looked terrified for a reason they didn’t know and would never understand. It had been two weeks since her encounter, and Georgina was starting to feel relatively normal. She did not get sick, but she

still felt uneasy. She went around town talking to different elders to understand what exactly the little people were. Georgina discovered that the little people who she now knew as “ishigaq” were messengers for their ancestors. Over the years, they had become depicted as cold-hearted, pesky creatures. One specific elder, named Negiunak, said that because we have become part of the modernized world, they had to hide away. Negiunak told her different stories about how the little people would pop up in our great-great-great grandparents’ igloos and tell them where the animals were, and in return, our ancestors would share what they caught with the little people. If you weren’t willing to share, they would give you hints about the animals, but they wouldn’t point out where they were straight away. Georgina walked home with a light heart, but she was still curious about the little people. She wondered what they were like, if they can speak English, Inuinnaqtun or if they had their own language they developed over time. She knew they looked normal, though their ears were pointed almost like an elf from one of those children’s storybooks. The need to know more was building up inside her body. It was practically begging to be released and if she did not fulfill it, she would go crazy. That was when she decided to go back. Georgina told her parents that she was sleeping over at a friend’s house and filled a backpack with essential surviving tools, such as a sleeping bag, toothbrush, toothpaste, a knife and an extra

pair of clothes. She walked out the door and bolted towards Ahagniakvik; at the pace she was going, it was roughly two hours away. If it weren’t for her burning need to find the answers that she wanted, she probably would’ve never made it. Georgina took out her phone and checked the time; it was nearly midnight. If her parents knew what she was doing, they would literally kill her. She sat in the same spot waiting for the ishigaq to show up, but this time they didn’t. It went on like this for the next month every time she would visit the Ahagniakvik. Georgina started losing hope. She didn’t know if she should keep coming back or leave them be. Eventually, she chose the latter, respecting that they maybe wanted to be left alone. If there’s one thing she’s learned, it’s that these little creatures were misjudged. They weren’t evil. They existed just like humans. It’s a known fact that humans tend to judge based on their looks, size and how different they are. It was not any different with these creatures who seemed to keep to themselves, not bothering anyone. It has now been over 20 years and Georgina has her own family: two children that she adopted and a one-year-old puppy. When her children grew old enough, she told them, “Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. Their truth might surprise you.” She teaches them about equality, kindness and compassion. She didn’t want her children to grow up not knowing those important qualities. She has not seen her little friends since that one day, but she holds them very close to her heart.


Tell us about your work.

Filming Folklore: Exploring Inuvialuit mysteries through the lens An interview with filmmaker Jerri Thrasher

First and foremost, I am an Inuvialuk in film. Aside from television producing, I am also a producer, writer and director. I write films that are a mix of traditional and contemporary elements about Inuit folklore, oftentimes pressing on social issues. Although written in a fictional sense, there are themes that are true to our history.

What about folklore interests you? When I was a child, my mother read to me on a regular basis. Fortunately enough, there was one author who created Inuit children content, Michael Kusugak. His stories were so similar (if not identical) to the stories we were told from our parent(s) and I remember feeling proud that we were represented in these stories. Those were times your imagination ran wild and – as you may know – Inuit folklore is often terrifying. Those stories served a purpose: to deter children from venturing too far into dangerous territory – a survival mechanism. So, to my surprise, when I got older, I found that there wasn’t very much Inuit-based content in all forms of media. This was frustrating as we had scarier and more exciting stories than any Hollywood movie I could think of. There was this feeling of purpose and obligation to step up and be one of the content creators in the best way I knew how – through film.

The three international films that formed the anthology, The Last Walk. On the top is a still from the Alaskan version (dir. Anna Hoover); in the middle, the Northwest Territories version (dir. Jerri Thrasher); and on the bottom, the Greenland version (dir. Pipaluk Jørgensen and Johannes Lynge). Photo Courtesy of ImagiNATIVE Film Festival/Jason Ryle

Tell me about your film, The Last Walk.

“I’m encouraging Inuvialuit to continue to create artistic content by us and for us. We should be our first audiences; when I write these films, I’m not writing them for southern audiences.”

This was my directorial debut. The International Sami Film Institute (in partnership with the Nunavut Film Development Corp.) created, for the first time, an Inuit Circumpolar group of filmmakers. We called ourselves the Arctic Film Circle (including Inuit Nunangat, Kalaallit Nunaat, Sapmi, Siberian Yupik/Chukchi and Inupiat). It was this group that collectively wrote what is now The Last Walk (2017). We brought back the scripts and adapted it the best we could to our regions in the circumpolar Arctic. Any which way we wrote this script, we were always going to write in themes of raising awareness and advocacy for our young people and [the] issues they face. While we were writing The Last Walk, I felt that it was important to go against the grain of what is usually portrayed. I was nervous, but, with the full support of these notable and amazing filmmakers, I gained confidence in this new area. During production, we made sure that the majority of cast and crew were Inuit. [Another] Inuvialuk woman in film, Tamara Voudrach, was an integral part of this production and she mentored me in the directing chair as our first assistant director. I don’t believe we could have accomplished what we did without her expertise and knowledge. Artless Collective Inc. out of Yellowknife produced the film with us, which was a very exciting collaboration.

Where do folklore and mythology tie into your work? As I had mentioned earlier, I work both in a contemporary and traditional style. For The Last Walk, I used some themes from the mythology surrounding Tulugaq, the raven trickster. For my next fiction narrative, Seacrets, I will be including elements of Sedna, the sea goddess. This new film will also tie in themes around ‘The Sixties Scoop’ and the importance of regaining and maintaining your cultural identity.

What have you learned about folklores from working with other Arctic filmmakers? That we have more similarities than not. I’ve travelled to these regions to work with these filmmakers and have felt a great sense of community and understanding. It was exciting – the first time we sat down and told each other the different adaptations to certain mythologies. For example, universally, we all have stories based around the horror genre. Sedna is depicted in slightly different views, such as her appearance and the circumstances of her transformation. Also, they all have stories of ‘little people’, interestingly enough.

What else would you like people to know? I’m encouraging Inuvialuit to continue to create artistic content by us and for us. We should be our first audiences; when I write these films, I’m not writing them for southern audiences. If there is content they may not understand, that is up to them to do their research. Don’t ever be afraid to show a different side within your art, as long as the intention is good and you understand the responsibility that’s required. In saying that there are things that I could’ve done differently, I am applying that new knowledge to my future work. My vision for the future is to see a large database that our people can access and especially in mainstream media. We’re definitely going to get there, one story at a time.


July 27th, 2019. Byron Kotokak and his son Tristan practice the Head Pull at the 35th Inuvialuit Final Agreement Anniversary event in Yellowknife, NT. The Head Pull is an Inuit game of strength and endurance, which was played by everyone to build endurance to handle long distance travel in the fall and winter. (Northern Games Society)

Image by Christopher Blechert



There was the highest number of graduates – ever – at Mangilaluk School this year.


Like so many high school graduates, Terri-Lee Kuptana (pictured in red dress) was a bundle of tears walking through the crowd in the graduation ceremony. The 43-year-old grandmother was there to graduate alongside her 19-year-old son, Muk. “There were a lot of mixed emotions,” said Terri-Lee about the graduation ceremony. “A little bit of shame, a lot of pride, a lot of sense of accomplishment. A lot of proving to myself that again, if you put your mind to something you can accomplish it.” She dropped out of Grollier Hall in 1995 just months before graduating Grade 12. She was pregnant and due in summer. Young mothers were shunned or talked about more in those days, she said. Despite her strong grades, she decided to drop out that spring. She went on to have another daughter in 1998 and a son in 2000. Though she had no Grade 12 diploma, her high transcript marks allowed her entry into an office administration certificate program (2017). She graduated the diploma program in 2009. Plans to return and complete a business administration diploma were sidelined when her mother ended up with cancer, which she battled from 2009 to 2016. Terri-Lee, husband, daughter and son moved in to help take care of her. She had clearly found educational and career success despite no Grade 12, but the lack of that one achievement left a hollow taste in Terri-Lee’s mouth about her own advice to her children. “You tell your kids their whole lives right from kindergarten that school is important,” said Terri-Lee. “I thought it was improper for me to be telling that to my kids all their lives sitting there with no diploma, when all I needed was Social 30 all these years.” Hopes to graduate with her daughter in 2016 were overwhelmed by responsibilities as a wife, mother and grandmother, as Terri-Lee worked and took care of her family, while also travelling with her mother for chemotherapy treatments. Instead, she targeted the 2019 graduation, to mark the achievement in the same year as her son. “I was really emotional (at the ceremony), as we both were thinking of my mom and how much she stressed the importance of education,” she said. The Tuktoyaktuk District Education Authority afforded her the ability to take the class she needed and complete the work in the evenings, for which Terri-Lee is very thankful. Going back to school – at any age – is scary, she admitted. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. But once your foot is in the door and you’ve got that determination and willingness to do what you need to get done, all those thoughts fade away.”

Terri-Lee dedicates her diploma to her parents, her husband, but most importantly – her daughter and son.


Photo Collage: A compilation of Moose Kerr School, Mangilaluk School, East Three Secondary School, and Aurora College (Inuvik) graduates, Summer 2019


TUSAAYAKSAT R O U NDTABLE WITH THE IRC’S REGIONAL YOUTH ADVISORY GROUP In an effort to increase the dialogue around some difficult topics, we posed a question to members of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation’s Regional Youth Advisory Group (RYAG), which has representation from all of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region communities. Following are the responses to the following question:

How do you deal with bullying, and how can we help youth who are being bullied?



Bullying is something that is around everywhere, no matter if you’re at school, work or social events. How do I deal with bullying? Out of all honesty, at first I think, “What and why is this person doing this. What did I ever do to them?” I tend to forget about myself and ask why this person is acting out this way to dissolve the situation and/or have a short talk with the bully to see what triggered them to act out in that way. A lot of the time when a bully is bullying, they are expressing some sort of frustrations. If it’s with the person they are bullying or frustrations of their own, there is always a way to go about your actions and reactions towards bullying. The reactions of the people being bullied can change the whole situation, even if it’s not reacting, reacting calmly and/or bullying back. For people out there being bullied, the majority of the time it is not about you, but more about the bully.

ASHLEY NAKIMAYAK SACHS HARBOUR Some people won’t be happy until they’ve pushed you to the ground. As an adult, when I see bullying happen, I tell kids that it’s not okay to be treating other people in hurtful manners, in any way. It’s not right to put people down or make them feel any less of a person. We should be looking out for one another and do our best to be role models for the younger generation. Teach them that bullying in any form is not okay. If anyone is being bullied, I tell them that they can talk to a trusted adult, a close friend, a teacher or their parents – anyone that can help. You don’t have to feel like you’re alone in this type of situation. No one deserves to be bullied into silence. Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own environment.


BRIANNA WOLKI PAULATUK Bullying has been a rising issue among our youth for many years. Today, it is still a growing factor that affects mental health. Bullying does not only affect our youth, but it also affects all age categories. Personally, I have been bullied. At the time, I did not know what to do or who to talk to. I thought that if I voiced my concerns that the bullying would only get worse. Little did I know that it would stop right then and there if I sought the help that I needed. My experience with bullying is a great example of why it is important to educate our youth to speak up and put an end to bullying that is either happening to them or around them. Now when I am in a situation where I am getting bullied, I deal with it by ignoring the negativity and walking away. If it escalates to a point where threats or violence are

involved, then I get the police involved. If I saw someone getting bullied, I would approach the situation, listen to both sides, and stand up for the victim. That said, both sides of the situation need support. We need to help the victims by advocating for them. We also need to support the bullies by finding the reason behind their actions and the types of supports available to them. Youth need to know that they are not alone and there is no need to fear seeking help in these situations. We need to educate our youth about the disadvantages of bullying, the types of supports readily available to them and what they can do to help those in need of such supports. Bullying will always be an ongoing matter, but if we can work together to help those around us, then it is a start to putting an end to bullying.

JESSI PASCAL AKLAVIK Bullying is something that has always happened. Children grow up with it. You either are the bully or get bullied at one point in your life. I have been bullied from growing up with glasses. I hate to admit it, but I once bullied people too, and I am not proud of that. I say sorry when I hurt someone’s feelings. People hurt my feelings without an apology and with apologies. It’s something that we have to talk about. The stigma has to stop. If you stand up against bullying, it absolutely does not mean that you are weak. It means that you have the courage to face any obstacles that get in the way of living your true self. Be kind to one another. You never know what obstacle they are facing. Always show a smile to others, look into their eyes and pay attention to what they’re saying. How does one person help another that’s being bullied? First off, just listen. Be there for them when they have something to say. Respect the fact that there are boundaries. Bring them to gatherings, whether it’s sports, art activities or community events. Help them show their true self and have fun while doing it. Provide support and ensure that they are aware that they are not alone. There are always helplines that help deal with bullying and other stigmas that we don’t talk about on a daily basis.

DAVONNA KASOOK INUVIK Bullying happens everywhere all the time. It’s not only an issue among youth – it happens in adulthood as well. I try to deal with bullying in the most nonreactive way that I can when it’s happening directly to me. I know from experience dealing with being bullied how hard it can be to not react or respond. The approach that I’ve taken in these situations is to ignore it, unless it gets to a certain extent where it can potentially result in physical violence. Then I put it in the hands of the law. If I ever witness someone being bullied, there is no doubt that I would speak up and stand up for them, obviously taking into consideration the circumstances of the situation. The only way we can put an end to bullying is by working together. We need to support people who are being bullied and support the people doing the bullying as well. Children and adults don’t just go out of their way to hurt the feelings of others or attack people physically for absolutely nothing. It is a learned behaviour, and in my experience being a bully and being a victim of bullying,

it is likely a result or reaction stemming from anger and pain caused by a completely different source. We need to educate each other on bullying and its effects and the supports that are available to us. We need to advocate for the victims of bullying by standing up for them and supporting them, but also working towards finding a solution to the underlying problem: why the bullies are bullying. We also need to take into consideration that bullying can happen in all stages of a person’s life, so if we educate people while they’re young about how to properly and positively deal with bullying, it becomes less of an issue as they grow older. My experience dealing with bullying and how I approach it now came from my experiences dealing with it as a child and young adult. If I had not had adults and mentors supporting me in those difficult times and teaching me positive ways to deal with the emotions that came after being verbally or physically attacked, I don’t think I would have the mindset that I have today when it comes to bullying.

TOPSY BANSKLAND ULUKHAKTOK From learning about human behaviour, there is always a reason to a person’s actions and intentions. My main way of dealing with bullying is to first understand why that person is bullying, and then to address it in a non-reactive manner. But if it is persistent, take it to an authority. Always take the situation into consideration. If you see it happening to someone else, speak out and don’t be a bystander. Bullying tends to be a reaction to something going on in the background of that individual, whether that be something going on at home, mentally, feelings of insecurity or otherwise. So, they have a habit of “taking it out” on another person(s). Youth can address it – never bully back – and look for the support around them (teachers, guardians, mentors) to stop the bullying. Never let people get away with bullying, as it will only persist over time.



Elders from all 6 communities: Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Inuvik, Aklavik, and Ulukhaktok, gathered from June 17th to 21st, 2019 to discuss their community needs and preserve cultural knowledge of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. This workshop focused on exploring elder’s concerns, needs, community gaps in resources, and sharing traditional healing and medicine. Atuatchikun Inuvialuit! Inuvialuit all together!

Participants included: Lorna Storr, Colin Gordon, Sarah Irish, Mary Ann Elanik, Barbara Erigaktoak, Louisa Kalinek, Eunice Nasogaluak, Fred Wolki, Ernest Pokiak. Bessie Hagen, Billy Emaghok, Sharon Green, Teddy Elias, Norman Anikina, Gilbert Thrasher, Ruben Green, Robert Kuptana, Joseph Kitekudlak, Elsie Klengenberg, Connie Alanak, Albert Elias, Shirley Elias, Joanne Tetlichi, Lottie Thrasher, Rose Kirby, Shirley Kisoun, Bertha Joe, Sarah Rogers, Helen Kitekudlak, Lily Ann Green, Catherine Katigakyok with support of Darlene Nigiyok, Candice Ruben, Savannah Arey, CDD staff including organizer Alecia Lennie, and guest facilitators Cheryl and Janis Brooks from the Stó:lō Nation in the Upper Fraser Valley of British Columbia.

“If we don’t make changes quickly, we could lose our culture. But we are strong people. We can get it back with a lot of hard work.” -Fred Wolki

“It is important to share your practices – don’t take that information with you when you go.” -Joanne Tetlichi


“There was too much technology too fast: gaming, cell phones, the internet. 50 years ago, our people were living off of the land and surviving… We needed time to adapt to the change.” -Ruben Green


Our powerful stories and the lives they can shape

^ Aarigaa! I am excited for this issue of our magazine because of the stories told within it! We break into some scary and creepy tales, which are right up my alley! This issue of Tusaayaksat continues to celebrate the accomplishments of our people as they venture through life. We see young people striving to be the best – being role models in their communities and taking advantage of learning opportunities all over the world. We hear from Elders who are passing on their years of knowledge to a new audience in our pages, reaching all across the country, and sharing their stories and experiences to help a new generation. There are storytellers all over our region – people who have a gift for sharing a bit of their lives and in this issue we delve into the stories that have been passed on by the Inuvialuit for generations. Legends and lore about the ‘little people’, the ‘hoofed lady’ and more regional tales are all reasons that I am excited to be here. Traditional tales with a modern twist make me feel warm in my heart. I feel like there is a strong future in our people, with those who tell these stories. I recently had a conversation with a friend about why I make short films and tell stories. I do it because I love those emotions – the way someone’s face lights up when they smile and laugh, or the very visible tension you can get from a good scare. Whatever your reasoning is for telling stories, please continue to share your experiences with others, whenever you can. It not only helps you gain skills in public speaking, it can also open doors to people you already

know. Maybe your friend has a similar story about the same topic but was too shy to say anything before. It’s amazing what you can learn from those around you when you listen to what they have to say. I find that so many people are just waiting for their time to talk, and not really taking in everything they hear. When I say our words have power, I mean it. The way we act upon others can directly affect their lives, especially in such a small place like our community and in our region. Gossip and rumours are more dangerous than ever, with bullying and lateral violence seen in all corners of our region. We need to recognize this power and teach others to use it accordingly. If we all helped each other with our individual struggles, we might see that we have more in common than we thought. Our lives shouldn’t be ‘me versus you,’ or ‘us versus them.’ Life is hard enough on everyone and I personally want to see more being done on the ground level to help each other get through another day in peace and joy. I’ve been frustrated with a lot lately, but I have people to talk to about it. I see a counsellor and we share perspectives, which really helps me in my journey. I hope you all have the same results, no matter how you get there. We all need help. Just ask. I’m going to be me, so you be you, too. Dez Loreen




Incoming Editor-in-Chief Jason Lau (centre) with Ethel-Jean Gruben (left), Lena Kotokak (right) and her granddaughter Polly Kotokak (bottom right) at the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre.

Dear Reader, Uvlaami! My name is Jason Lau, and it is a great honour to introduce myself as the incoming Editor-in-Chief of Tusaayaksat Magazine. When I first saw the sleek pages of this incredible publication, I already knew it was something special. The vibrant lives and stories seemed to radiate out of the glossy paper, in all of its positivity, strength and warmth – something undoubtedly needed through those cold winter months. However, what kindles the warmth of Tusaayaksat is not anything to do with the ink or paper quality you feel now with your fingers, but the undying spirit and artistry of the individuals who fill these pages. As Elder Pauline Gordon once told me, one warm summer day out on her front porch: this artistry is living and breathing, and very much infused into the everyday lives of those

who make up the pages of Tusaayaksat. As such, our goal at ICS is to continue capturing this living artistry as honestly and creatively as possible. To do so, then, means to continue having lively Inuvialuit voices, stories, and even art – whatever that means to you – throughout the pages of this magazine, no matter where you are in the world. But more so than that, to continue improving Tusaayaksat, we at ICS would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, feedback, and ideas about how we’ve been doing. What have you liked about the publication? What could we do better? How can we design it to better reflect your culture and daily lives? While those are just some examples of questions with no easy answers, what we do know is that this publication continues to have lots of potential. Print is a format that we thought would have

been outdated by 2019, but it somehow still sticks around to find itself in your mailboxes every couple of months. Perhaps there is something special about being able to hold a work of art in your hands, much like an Inuvialuit soapstone carving, ulu blade, or even an atiqluq made by everyone’s favourite Auntie. So – our wish for Tusaayaksat is that it continues to be created by and for you, your family, and your kids as they grow up. I hope you enjoy this issue of Tusaayaksat Magazine – and I am excited to meet you during my time here. Again, please don’t hesitate to call and say hi, drop by the ICS office if you’re in Inuvik, or shoot us an email at tusaayaksat@northwestel.net. Please let us know if we can ever work with you to tell your story to the world. Quyanainni! Koana! Quyanaq!

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