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Stories from across Inuit Nunangat DELTA WEDDING TRADITIONS WITH A TWIST






ON THE COVER: Inuvialuk photographer Kristian Binder snapped this incredible image of the northern lights above Inuvik. To see more of Kristian’s photos, follow Eighty One Images on Facebook or Instagram!

Published quarterly by ICS at Box 1704, 292 Mackenzie Rd, Inuvik, Northwest Territories, X0E 0T0. Contact us at +1 (867) 777 2320 or





PUBLISHER Inuvialuit Communications Society EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison HEAD DESIGNER Vanessa Hunter EDITORIAL TEAM WRITER/PHOTOGRAPHER Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison COPY EDITOR Laura Worsley-Brown INUVIALUKTUN TRANSLATORS Albert Elias CONTRIBUTORS Tom Mcleod, Rosemarie Kuptana, Suzie Nayok-Short, Dennis Allen, Danny Swainson, Cody Punter, Charles Arnold, Nadine Klengenberg-Kuneluk, Dana Bowen, Elaine Anselmi, Chris Fields, Mark Rendell, Sheree McLeod and Denali Whiting PHOTOGRAPHERS Kristian Binder, Trevor Lucas, Ali McConnell, Robert Kautuk, Jackie Challis, Tom Mcleod, Danny Swainson, Cody Punter, Nadine Klengenberg-Kuneluk, Glenn Guevara, Shayla Snowshoe, Jerri Thrasher, Elaine Anselmi and Nick Westover






SPECIAL THANKS TO Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre, Jackie Challis, Ali McConnell and Northern Youth Leadership, Sarah Culley, Mervin Joe, Mady MacDonald and the staff at Parks Canada, Library and Archives Canada, NWT Archives, the Northern Games Society, Jacqui Lambert and Qargi Zine BUSINESS OFFICE Inuvialuit Communications Society BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT, INUVIK Lucy Kuptana VICE PRESIDENT, TUKTOYAKTUK Debbie Raddi TREASURER, ULUKHAKTOK Joseph Haluksit AKLAVIK DIRECTOR Colin Gordon PAULATUK DIRECTOR Denise Wolki SACHS HARBOUR DIRECTOR Jean Harry








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TUSAAYAKSAT UKIUGAQHIGAA TUSAAYAKSAT IN THE WINTER NUTAAMI UKIUMI QUVIAHUGLUHI! HAPPY NEW YEAR! “I just like going out hunting and being out on the land. It’s just like you’re free.” Those are the words of Kobe Keevik, a 15 year old from Tuktoyaktuk, but they could be the words of many more Inuvialuit who find peace, strength and healing on the land. In our latest issue of Tusaayaksat, we take you out of our regional centres, towns and hamlets and into our Delta, out onto our tundra and below the tree line where the heart of so many Inuvialuit stories are - where so many Inuvialuit feel free. Kobe’s story takes place in Fort Simpson, where he attended the Leadership Through the Drum camp alongside youth from Cambridge Bay to Lutsel K’e (page 56). Nearly 1,000 km north, we bring you coverage from Ulukhaktok, where the community welcomed the largest cruise ship to sail through the Northwest Passage on its inaugural voyage (page 50). Forty kilometres west of Tuktoyaktuk, Tusaayaksat

Nathalie and Kobe at the 2016 Leadership Through the Drum Camp in Fort Simpson.

reports from Kuukpak, where researchers are racing against time – and global warming – to save precious Inuvialuit artifacts (page 18). To the west, we explore the trails of Ivvavik National Park through the eyes of Mervin Joe, the Mayor of Sheep Creek and a true trailblazer at Parks Canada (page 12). In the Mackenzie Delta we take a look at the traditions that make each Inuvialuit wedding one of a kind (page 46). And in a story that spans centuries, from the whaling camps of Herschel Island to the baseball diamond of Inuvik, we investigate the history of everyone’s favourite summer sport in the North (page 66). From the melting Northwest Passage to the dusty baseball fields of the Mackenzie Delta, Inuvialuit hold a unique and storied relationship with the land. We hope you enjoy their stories.

QUYANAINNI THANK YOU, Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison Editor-in-Chief


Community Corporations News from hold elections

around the ISR and beyond

Ulukhaktok named “Operator of the Year” The community of Ulukhaktok was awarded “Operator of the Year” at the Northwest Territories Tourism Conference in Yellowknife in November. “While the award is traditionally given to a single tourism operator, special recognition was given to Ulukhaktok for their successful undertaking in planning and welcoming the Crystal Serenity Cruise Ship with 1,000 passengers and 600 crew members this past August. It was the first time hosting a cruise ship of this size in your community. You provided a unique experience and a glimpse into the Inuvialuit traditions and culture. Visitors alike praised your friendliness, warmth and welcoming hospitality!” wrote Duane Smith in a letter congratulating the community. “Great job and team work to all those involved in the success of this initiative! Quviahukpiaqtugut!”

Trappers recognized The NWT Trapper Recognition Program recognized the hard work NWT trappers put into their craft and the well-earned contribution they bring to the economy. In September, awards were given out to the top trappers in the South Slave, North Slave, Sahtu, Dehcho and Inuvik regions in four categories: highest sales, highest number of pelts sold, senior trapper and youth trapper. In the Inuvik region, Moses Kasook of Inuvik won for highest sales and highest harvest. Edith Haogak of Sachs Harbour was recognized as senior trapper, and James Kogiak of Aklavik was recognized as youth trapper. Congratulations!

Community Corporations across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region held elections for new board members in December. Three directors were elected in Inuvik: Edgar Maring, Kurt Wainman and Rory Voudrach. In Paulatuk, Lawrence Ruben was elected chair, while Bobby Ruben Sr., David Ruben and Andy Thrasher were elected directors. In Aklavik, three directors were elected to the community corporation: Dennis Arey, Brandon Mcleod and Richard Storr. In Tuktoyaktuk, Dennis Raddi Sr. was elected to a one-year term, while Chukita Gruben, Peter Nogasak and Vince Teddy were elected to two-year terms. Sachs Harbour elected Vernon Amos as the chair of the community corporation, and Darren Nasogaluak, Ryan Lucas, Tony Lucas Sr. and John Keogak Sr. as directors. In Ulukhaktok, Jack Akhiatak was elected to the chair position, and Helen Kitekudlak, Annie Goose and Eddie Okheena were elected as directors.

IRC intervenes in the Clyde River Supreme Court of Canada appeal The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) delivered oral arguments on Nov. 30 before the Supreme Court of Canada in the appeal of Hamlet of Clyde River et al v PGS et al. The case involves a decision by the National Energy Board (NEB) to authorize seismic testing in Baffin Bay and the Davis Straight. The testing would project sound loud enough to severely affect whales and other marine life harvested by the Inuvialuit. The Inuvialuit right to harvest these animals is a central guarantee of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA).

“The Inuvialuit have many years of experience dealing with offshore oil and gas exploration,” said Duane Smith, Chair and CEO of IRC. “We want to see development conducted responsibly without eroding the hard-won rights under the IFA including our right to be engaged using its constitutionally protected review processes.” Kate Darling, lawyer for IRC, explained that IRC is advocating that the legal principle of free, prior and informed consent, set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, should guide Indigenous consultation where modern land claim rights are at stake.

Anti-Poverty Inuvik launches Round Table new website held in Inuvik The Government of the Northwest Territories held its 4th Anti-Poverty Round Table in Inuvik Nov. 29 and 30. This marked the first time the round table was held outside of Yellowknife. The meeting brought together non-government organizations, MLAs, and stakeholders including band councils and Indigenous governments, to learn about progress and activities under the Territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan, share best practices and showcase projects supported by the Anti-Poverty Fund. A new Anti-Poverty website was also launched at the round table. For more information, visit www.

The Town of Inuvik launched its new tourismrelated website – – in November. Use the hashtag #TrulyArctic to stay connected!

Aurora named one of top 50 research colleges in Canada also represents a significant recognition of the developing research capacity within Aurora College and the NWT.

Aurora College has been named one of Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges for 2016. It is ranked 28 out of the nation’s top colleges according to Research Infosource Inc.

The college was also singled out in December when long-term Aurora College instructor Joel McAlister received national recognition at the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting in Winnipeg. McAlister has been a senior instructor in the Environment and Natural Resources Technology program (ENRTP) at Aurora Campus in Inuvik since 1998. He was presented with the 2016 APECS Canada-ASA Mentor of the Year Award for his untiring support and commitment to the success of his students; many have gone on to careers in research and environmental monitoring in the Western Arctic region.

Aurora College’s standing on Canada’s Top Colleges for Research list is due in large part to the recent focus that the College and its research division, Aurora Research Institute, have put on updating and introducing policies which have elevated the institution’s approach to research ethics and procedures, according to a press release from the college. The rigorous standards now applied in research ethics and administration have allowed Aurora College to successfully apply for and hold funds from two of the major research granting organizations in Canada – the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). This “institutional eligibility” allows faculty and staff to access research funds, and increases the ability of Aurora College to retain northern-based research capacity. It

Joel McAlister, long-term Aurora College Instructor, was awarded the Mentor of the Year Award at ArcticNet in December.

Community Health Reps honoured

During his tenure, more than 40 students have graduated from the Inuvik ENRTP program.

Ruben named to Order of Canada Master sculptor Abraham Anghik Ruben was inducted into the Order of Canada in Ottawa on Nov. 17 by Governor General David Johnston.

From left to right: Marlene Wolki of Paulatuk, Sarah Krengnektak of Tuktoyaktuk, Rena Chapple of Tulita, Trudy Kochon of Colville Lake, and Hon. Alfred Moses, Minister of Education, Culture & Employment.

Education, Culture and Employment Minister Alfred Moses joined Community Health Representative Certificate students from around the NWT for a brief ceremony in Yellowknife in September to celebrate Community Health Representative (CHR) Day. CHRs provide community health education, health promotion, injury prevention and community development. They assess community health needs, client health education needs, and work with their communities towards improving health and well-being. Minister Moses thanked the CHRs for their dedication and commitment to helping build healthier communities in the NWT. Students in the program are all currently working in the field and taking courses to obtain their certificates. They travelled from Colville Lake, Fort Simpson, Paulatuk, Tulita and Tuktoyaktuk to take part in a course in Yellowknife during the week of September 12-16.

“Abraham Ruben is one of Canada’s best-known and innovative Inuvialuit artists. Gifted at translating storytelling into sculpture, he uses non-traditional materials and tools to create compelling stone and bronze pieces that reflect the stories, myths and legends of northern cultures. He has exhibited in Canada and internationally, notably as the first Inuit artist to have a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian. Through his pioneering work and teachings, he has inspired the next generation of Inuit artists and showcased our northern heritage to the world,” wrote the office of the Governor General in a press release.

Abraham Anghik Ruben, left, with Governor General David Johnston in Ottawa.

The Order of Canada was created in 1967, during Canada’s centennial year, to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Since its creation, more than 6,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order.



Inuit Nunangat – the region encompassing 35 per cent of Canada’s land mass and 50 per cent of its coastline – is where Inuit call home and where they enjoy their time on the land all year long. Aarigaa!

John Lucas and Ryan Lucas cross the sea ice in June near Sachs Harbour.

Photo by Trevor Lucas

Photo by Trevor Lucas

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Arctic char dry fish at Middle Lake on Banks Island.

Photo by Trevor Lucas

Photo courtesy of Northern Youth Leadership

Going for a rip in Tuktoyaktuk.

Photo by Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Participants of the Northern Youth Leadership Girls Advanced Leadership Canoe Trip go for a dip after a long day of paddling. Between July 22 and August 1 participants travelled from Behchoko to Yellowknife along the North Arm of Great Slave Lake.

Photo by Tom Mcleod

Ulukhaktok gets ready to welcome the Crystal Serenity luxury cruise ship in August.

Nikki and Rikki Kikoak hang out at Kitti Hall in Tuktoyaktuk.

Newborn muskox calves on Banks Island.

Siksik Lake on Banks Island.

A seal peeks above the ice on Banks Island.

Southern Banks Island in July.


Inuit photographer Robert Kautuk captured this stunning image of a walrus hunt three hours by boat from Igloolik, Nunavut. “We came across a bunch of walruses and two were caught on the boat that I was in. We butchered them and when we were ready to pack them in the boat I took this picture with a drone,� Robert says. The animals were later cached so that they could be picked up in winter by snowmobile.

Photo by Robert Kautuk

Photo by Tom Mcleod


Kiana Lafferty, Zahnayii Drygeese, Lucy Ann Okheena and Felicia Elanik take a break after paddling the North Arm of Great Slave Lake.

Photo by Trevor Lucas

Returning home from a seal hunt. Photo courtesy of Northern Youth Leadership

Cleaning a fishing net on the sea ice outside of Sachs Harbour.

Photo by Trevor Lucas

Photo by Trevor Lucas

Shooting practice in Tuktoyaktuk.

Sea ice at Mary Sachs, about 10 km outside of Sachs Harbour.

END TO END We were stuck in a boat, on an island, in the Mackenzie River, the largest river in Canada. How can you be stuck on an island when you have a boat? Well at this point it stops being a question of what you have at hand and becomes more of a question of weight ratios. A 20-foot boat weighs over two thousand pounds and this one, in particular, contained all of my worldly possessions. This meant that the WORDS BY was the thing stuck on the island. TOM MCLEOD boat We were by extension stuck on the boat. But despite the unfavorable weight ratios we tried our best to make it into a question of grip and what was available. First trying to use the plastic paddles we had in the boat to push the boat off the island and back into water deep enough to float. We tried moving around to find the right balance, to get a part of the boat to float. This was impossible as the entire boat was sunk into the four inches of unfrozen mud of the Mackenzie. The next option was to jump into the three-inch-deep water and push the boat off the island. We quickly decided against this. The reason we were stuck here was because we swerved out of the way of a stray iceberg. It was decided that jumping into the water would give the jumper hypothermia. Assessing the situation, we soon realized that pushing from outside the boat would be our lonely option. So we had to get creative. We pulled out an end table that had once housed my nightly dinner, plopped it into the water and squashed it down into the mud. While this was inefficient, it was something we could keep up almost indefinitely, whereas jumping directly into the

cold water would drain the strength from a person in about half an hour. After maybe an hour of pushing the boat as much as four or five inches at a time, pulling the end table out of the mud to reposition it and continuing to push, rinse and repeat. We decided to go for broke and put a second end table into the water. This time at the rear of the boat. This was far less effective and the end table was repositioned to the front. We started pushing the boat, which is just far too heavy a thing to push at for any reasonable amount time. This in hindsight was probably a less efficient way of doing the job, as it meant that we then had to reposition two end tables every time they got too far from the boat to push from. Luckily for us, some kind passersby came along and offered to help pull the boat out of the mud. First one boat came and was just not enough. Then a second came and was still not enough. This was sink or swim time, literally. So we hopped into the iceberg-infested Mackenzie River to push the boat while we had as much help as were likely to get. Pushing the boat, we were able to get it to move a good fifteen feet! Before it got stuck again when one of the ropes busted. I walked over to the boat to hand them their rope back. At this point we were wet and cold. We just wanted out and off. Once the boat was retied, we went for one last push - a Hail Mary of trapped watercraft. Slowly but surely it budged forwards, and we were able to get it moving. The boat got into water deep enough to float, and we were free. All that was left was the two brave end tables that gave up their end table lives to give us freedom.


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What is Inuit Ilitgusia? Inuit Ilitqusia or the Inuit Way of Knowing, also known as Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ), is the vast scientific knowledge base of Inuit. IQ is a living technology. It is a means of rationalizing thought and action, a means of organizing tasks and resources, a means of organizing family and society into coherent wholes. It has its roots and principles in that the world around us is inter-dependent, inter-related, interdimensional, multi-disciplined, interconnected, inter-generational, evolving and holistic. When you strip away the more ineffable aspects of culture: spirituality, cosmology, language, etc., you begin to see a structure that is common to all human societies, indeed, essential to all human societies: the family. The Inuit Way of Knowing is over 20,000 years old in North America and has developed and evolved through trial and error and observation. It has been passed from generation to generation by Inuit teaching our children and grandchildren through action, sharing and oral history - to give them the tools and skills to live a quality of life and ensure survival. Outsiders have termed this knowledge base as “traditional knowledge,” limiting the Inuit Way of Knowing to the past, viewed as anecdotal evidence, and of little consequence for inclusion in discussions which impact Inuit in the Arctic. In Canada, oral tradition is recognized as valid evidence in the court of law. It is through oral history that Inuit Ilitqusia has been passed on to the next generation. Inuit view humans as being inter‑related with the environment and universe around us. Inuit and the environment are from the same tapestry of life. This is a truism in Western science as well, much of the living world and humans share DNA strands for instance. Inuit spiritual practices are believed to be inter-dimensional with those of other dimensions. For instance, Inuit shamans had already been to the moon and back by the time the first rockets made it to the moon. Leading edge scientist in today’s society, Stephen Hawking, speaks closely to the Inuit view on the reality of other dimensions and the possibility of time travel.

Letters from down south:


Inuit Ilitqusia is multi-disciplined and includes, but is not limited to, marine science and its living resources such as marine mammals and fish, ocean currents through Inuit use and occupation of the sea, ice, and water are several examples. Inuit occupied the sea-ice during the winter for two important reasons. One is because the sea ice is warmer than the land, as land has permafrost and is much colder than the sea ice which has constant water flow. Secondly for seal hunting. During the winter, Inuit had knowledge of the tides and currents under the sea ice and would go clam digging on the sea-bed when the tide was out. This is Inuit knowledge. Child rearing and developing are integral to Inuit society. There is nothing more precious and valuable as a child to the Inuit. Children are shaped to become who they are, depending on their interests and skills. Inuit women and girls are the knowledge holders and must ensure the passing of genealogical knowledge, history, songs, storytelling, legends, weather reading, constellations and how to navigate using the stars. Inuit women were once master midwives. There are stories of Inuit women who birthed their child and then continued walking on the trail. This is because Inuit possess medicinal knowledge and practice integrating mind and body. Like other peoples and cultures, Inuit have a sophisticated knowledge in the sciences. For instance, an igloo builder has to have knowledge of geometry and architecture, depth and space. However, Western science comes from a reductionist point of view, which Inuit exercise as well in formulating a holistic approach. The Inuit way of life is changing due to climate change and global warming, but Inuit will survive. What happens in the Arctic will eventually happen in other parts of the world. The Arctic is impacted first. Inuit wish to share this knowledge with those who seek to speak about Inuit Nunangat or Inuit Ilitqusia. Discussions about the Arctic must include the elected Inuit leadership. Inuit have contributed much on matters of a complex nature through discussion, cooperation and negotiation; as symbols of sovereignty, art, kayaks, Inukshuit, and so on. We believe it is time for others to make room for Inuit.

To scoop or not to scoop


When we first moved to Lethbridge from the Yukon, we had to get used to a lot of new rules. Take dogs for example. We have two dogs: Jack, an old husky/lab cross, and Miko, a bit of a mutt that likes to bark. Back in the Yukon, I thought nothing of letting my dogs out the door and then letting them run free. Our neighbourhood was pet-friendly. Everyone had a dog. But when we moved down south, there was an expectation to look after your animals.

Our dogs were not used to be cooped up, and they did a lot of barking those first few weeks to let us know how they felt about being locked behind a gate. I felt bad, especially for Jack who is such a free spirit. Back in the Yukon, he’d take off for hours just roaming through the trails. If he didn’t come back by nightfall, someone would usually bring him back. Miko was worse. He used to like bolting out the door and barking his fool head off at anything that moved. Everyone was used to him, and they would let him bark ‘til he sniffed them and figured they were friends. So locking Miko up was kinda tough too. But we had to. But the one thing we really had to do was pick up after them. I remember the first time it happened. It was our second day in town, and I took the dogs for a walk to check out the ‘hood. I thought I’d let them off the leash in the park and let them run free. The first thing Miko did was run full blast at the first person he saw, barking like a damn fool. Just so happened the old man had a cane and hated dogs, ‘cause he was swinging at Miko and swearing at me to control my dog. I had to run over and rescue Miko before he got clubbed. Then Jack took a big dump right on the sidewalk. That grumpy old dog (not Jack) was just scowling at me. I smiled at him and dug in my pocket for a doggy bag. I’d never cleaned up after a dog before and was feeling pretty ticklish let me tell you. I closed my eyes and pinched my nose while I picked up Jack’s dung. It was warm and squishy, and I felt like a doggone idiot doing so. Then I had to tie a knot in it, but it dropped and the bag split. I didn’t have another one, so I took off one of my socks and picked it up. That old so and so’s eyeballs were just about popping out of his head. I was getting PO’d at him. I held out my sock. “You want it?” I asked him. He grumbled and walked away. I’m getting pretty good at it now. Sometimes I’ll take a grocery bag and put Jack’s legs through it, like a diaper, and tie it up with a piece of twine. Then when he takes a dump, it goes right in the bag. I never thought I’d be obeying by-law, but you can get a fifty-dollar fine. I’d rather use that fifty bucks to buy gas anyway. So I think I’ll just obey the law. Until next time, this is your reporter from down south, Dennis Victor Allen



Mervin Joe reflects on 23 years in Ivvavik National Park Words and photos by Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison Before Halfway to Heaven became a signature hike at Ivvavik National Park, a must-see stop for outdoor adventurers in one of Canada’s most remote regions, it was simply a spot on an empty map that Mervin Joe wanted to get to. The story that follows has been repeated so often you could call it an Ivvavik legend. “Nobody went and hiked around those mountains,” Mervin says of the British Mountains’ peaks surrounding the park’s base camp at Sheep Creek. “As we stayed longer shifts in the park we started going further and further.” It was around 1998 – although Mervin can’t quite remember the year – and he was in the park with some visiting artists. They decided to go for a walk one day, ascending the hills behind camp. The group found themselves with plenty of daylight, high on the mountain ridges, with backpacks full of food and water, so they pressed on. “We were out hiking, and I called into the office with our radio. Our superintendent at the time was asking where I was – we check in every day, in the morning and the evening - and I said we were going for a hike and were going to call from up in the mountains. When we were up that way, and he asked where I was, I said, ‘I don’t know, must be halfway to heaven by now I guess!’” The name stuck. More than 15 years later, Halfway to Heaven, with its iconic tors (rock formations) and a 360-degree view of the park, is the reason many visitors make the long and often expensive trip to the Arctic from all over the world.



More people step foot on the summit of Mount Everest every year than the rocky tors of Halfway to Heaven, making Mervin a record-breaking mountaineer of sorts, but he’s far from the first Inuvialuit to ever explore the vast landscape of the 10,000 square kilometre park. Ivvavik, meaning “a place for giving birth” or “a nursery,” is the first national park in Canada to be established through a land claim agreement, created in 1984 within the framework of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. It protects the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou and is home to many other animals, including grizzly bears, wolves and muskox. It’s also where Inuvialuit and their ancestors have hunted and fished for thousands of years. Aklavik’s ties to the land in the past two centuries are particularly strong. In the late 1940s, the Firth River was the site of a gold rush, with about 200 people staking claims in the area, including Inuvialuit from Herschel Island and the Mackenzie Delta. Mervin’s roots in the park run deep. His dad was born at Niaqulik, on the coast of Ivvavik, in the 1930s. Joe Creek, in the south-west of the park, is named for his grandfather, Joe Inglangasuk, who hunted and fished in the area. Mervin first applied to work at Parks Canada after completing the two-year Environment and Natural Resources Technology Program at Aurora College in Inuvik. He was hired in the spring of 1993 as a seasonal patrol person and has been there ever since. His current position is Resource Management Officer. This summer he went out to the park 15 times, spending approximately 75 days at the Sheep Creek base camp and on Firth River.

“He’s your prototypical Inuvialuit. He loves to be outdoors. That’s why his job is perfect for him. He’s very well suited to what he does,” says Mervin’s friend and coworker David Haogak. “He’s the jack of all trades,” adds Rachel Hansen, who has worked with Mervin since 2006. “He’s very knowledgeable of the area out of Ivvavik. He can personally connect to the visitors very easily. He’s very welcoming and inviting. He has a lot of good stories to tell.” If you follow Mervin up the mountain or eat an exceptionally good meal with him by camp cook and mother-in-law Louisa Kalinek, then you’ve probably heard him say his oft-repeated mantra: “I love my job. I love my job. I love my job.” “He’s very dedicated,” explains David. “I like getting lost with him. It’s fun exploring with him, especially when you’re in a new place. He gets excited, and it makes you appreciate being out there more. Mervin’s well known for Parks. He’s won awards. For him coming from Aklavik, I’m very proud and honoured to work with him. I’ve learned a lot.” Rachel agrees. “All hikes are awesome and great to go on with him. He just shares all his knowledge. He stops at certain points and will tell you interesting facts, interesting points about it. He takes the time to teach.” Following Mervin up the mountain is like having your own personal GPS. Every valley, every trail, every peak and ridge are familiar to him. “What’s so special about Ivvavik? I don’t know,” says Mervin. “Everything is special about it. It’s isolated. No highways, no roadways. The only way to get there is to fly in, by snowmobile, or by boat,” he says. “I just like to show it off.”





nuvialuit history is being destroyed by climate change, forcing archaeologists to race against the clock to preserve what’s left for future generations.

“[Kuukpak] is arguably the most important site there is in the region,” says Max Friesen, archaeologist and professor at the University of Toronto. “These sites are being destroyed by climate change.” The Kuukpak site is a portrait of Inuvialuit history. About 20 houses exist in the area 40 km west of Tuktoyaktuk, and at one time there could have been as many as 40. The structures and their contents − beads, tools and different materials − are hints at the time period they were used and the lives of their inhabitants. Max’s team of archaeologists from the south, along with Inuvialuit, have been forced to realign summer fieldwork plans to unearth the 19th-century site and the historical clues it holds before the rising water does it for them. “We finished a house this past summer, but we didn’t have time to finish the second house and realized it’s under much worse threat than we thought,” Max says. The Kuukpak site is built into an outer bluff, and about a metre away the land is eroding into the Mackenzie River. “In 2013 it was looking fairly stable,” Max says. “And then last year, twice the water level came right up, halfway up the bluff, so you could see it eating away. That house may not last more than two years.”


A 2016 survey of the beach at Kuukpak during low tide. All beluga whale bones, stones and other objects have eroded from houses on the river bank.

A beautifully decorated comb found at Kuukpak.



That is the reason Max and his team will head back to the Delta for fieldwork this summer, despite normally alternating summer field seasons with less intensive aerial studies. The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on earth. It’s been said many times by many people. Kuukpak is an example: History being washed into the Mackenzie River. But tangible clues of the past are just one casualty of the warming climate; the way of life those clues illustrate - the way of life of the Inuvialuit - is in constant flux as the land they live off of takes new form. * “I was born and raised here, in King’s Bay in an iglu,” says David Kuptana, seated at the Arctic Char Inn in Ulukhaktok. “As I was growing up, I travelled with my mom and dad a lot. We used to stay out on the land for the springtime hunt. As a person growing up, I didn’t like to be left behind.” It’s the reason he stopped attending school after Grade 3. It’s also the reason he’s a highly recognized hunter in the area. His last year’s catch of a grizzly-polar bear cross is on display at the community’s airport. David grew up learning on the land. He can tell the sex of a polar bear by its footprint, the weather forecast and the lay of the land by the snowdrifts. “The east and west wind snowdrifts, we’d use them for a compass. We used to go straight out on the ice to hunt polar bear. You couldn’t see the land, but you still knew where you were going just by following the snowdrift,” he says. “You can’t do that anymore. It doesn’t freeze until maybe December, maybe a two-month difference, but it doesn’t freeze the way it used to. You don’t get the snowbanks anymore.” David was nine years old when he shot his first polar bear. But the ice, David says, is different now. It’s not as safe. Even though the ice stayed out later into the season last year, it was of a different stock - and not as thick. “We can’t even go out there and camp on it. We used to do that, used to camp on the ice and never had fear it would break.” In Ulukhaktok, about 70 per cent of the population hunt and fish. Across the Northwest Territories, participation in hunting and fishing is higher in the Beaufort Delta than any other region, according to a 2008 Community Survey by the NWT Bureau of Statistics. Of people 15 years of age and older in the region, nearly 50 per cent either fish or hunt - across the territory the average was 39 per cent. Sachs Harbour had the highest number, followed by Paulatuk and Ulukhaktok. Those that live on the water also live off of those waters. And communities bound by water in the summer and ice in the winter are at the mercy of its changing state. The sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk every year since 1979, according to the United Nations. In October, 6.4 million square kilometers of ice covered the Arctic. That’s the lowest on record for that time of year - 400,000 square kilometers less than the previous record low in 2007. To say the crisis is being ignored isn’t quite fair. In December 2015, the Paris Accord was signed by nearly 200 United Nation member states, recognizing the need for action on climate

change. There were wins: Indigenous leaders saw that the agreement included a commitment to funding adaptation and mitigation projects around climate change that take traditional knowledge into account. The document reads that efforts must, “be guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge (and) knowledge of Indigenous peoples.” The Inuit Circumpolar Council was one of a number of groups that called for limiting a global temperature increase to 1.5 C, rather than the generally accepted 2 C increase. The commitment wasn’t firm on this, maintaining the 2 C temperature increase as its threshold, but included a promise of efforts to move toward the more drastic limit of a 1.5 C increase. But there were also compromises: Inuit, Métis and First Nations organizations, along with Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, have long called for the rights of Indigenous people to a healthy environment to be included in the legally binding agreement. This, however, did not happen. “That part was a disappointment,” Duane Smith, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and former president of ICC Canada, said at the time. “Indigenous peoples are much more affected by the changing climate than other people are, just due to our relationship with the land and the environment around us.”

Relics of the past, the tools, beads and structures at Kuukpak, won’t be the limit of loss to the eroding grounds. The Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk itself is racing against the destructive erosion of its shoreline. Its local government proposed lining cement blocks up against particularly vulnerable areas of the coastline to keep the erosion from destroying infrastructure. The small cemetery in Tuktoyaktuk, just up from the shore of the Arctic Ocean and surrounded by a white picket fence, is already at risk of washing away. Talks of relocating some homes have begun. Natural Resources Canada released a report on the impact global warming is having on the country’s coastline titled “Canada’s Marine Coasts in a Changing Climate.” Canada has nearly 250,000 kilometres of coastline - the most of any country in the world. The majority of that coastal area (about 70 per cent) is in the Northern stretches of the country. Here, where structures are built on melting permafrost, where people rely on the land and water for food and income, where history is literally being washed away, the report hesitantly states that there are positives and negatives. While the change is pressuring the way of life of communities and scarring the land, it is also opening opportunities for shipping and natural resource exploration the hesitation comes at the additional risk of these ventures. One of the major concerns voiced in the report, and even more clearly illustrated on the already-eroding shores of the Arctic, is the risks that come with a rising sea level. That rise brings higher tides and more frequent, more turbulent storm surges, and the Beaufort Sea Coast is particularly vulnerable. While much of the Western Arctic is likely to see a drop in sea levels, communities in the Western Arctic are predicted to see a range of increases from zero to 75 centimetres over the next century. Tuktoyaktuk is on the higher end of that spectrum.


Sunlight shines through a knife blade made out of nephrite, a clear green stone similar to jade. In order to understand what Inuvialuit fished and hunted while at Kuukpak, archaeologists excavated a small area in front of the house, where remains of meals would have been discarded. In the foreground you can see the area that was later found to contain thousands of animal bones - mainly fish and beluga, but also caribou, moose, seal, bird, fox and other species.

The Kuukpak cruciform house nearing the end of excavation. In the foreground, Letitia Pokiak measures the location of an artifact found on the bench. (Letitia is kneeling on the rear bench in the foreground of the photo, and behind her is the main floor with the two side benches beside it.)

* Most of Piers Kreps’ family came from Tuktoyaktuk. Growing up in southern Ontario, he had little connection to the North after the age of four, despite being Inuvialuit. Now a student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., he’s joined Max’s team at Kuukpak. For Piers, it’s about making that connection to the land and the culture he’s only recently recognized. Because locked into the land, its hills and lakes and the wildlife that live off of it, that culture is buried. And eroding away. “This has been a whole journey for me over the past year and a half,” he says. “I’m so thankful [Max is] doing this because if there’s one area that my family is from, it’s the Mackenzie Delta, and I think it’s really valuable for me to learn more about it.” The camp runs about 1000 metres down the river, he explains, and on his first visit Max led the group to each site along the stretch explaining the importance of that structure and the artifacts it contains. “One storm really drove up water levels in the area, and just from seeing that it became really apparent why it’s such an urgent matter to uncover it,” says Piers. “the tunnel that Inuvialuit would have entered is right on the shore now. The east wing is in danger of falling into the river and being swept into the ocean. There’s some areas that are fine and safe but if it’s a bad winter and tough spring, there might be a lot of trouble recovering the structure and artifacts.” The site is changing quickly. Even big cliffs along the riverbank are eroding away - you couldn’t walk for five minutes along the shore, Piers says, without seeing an area where the land has collapsed into the water. “Seeing this fall apart in front of me … I just couldn’t believe that this kind of thing goes on in my homeland.” Adaptation, as many Inuvialuit will say, is necessary and has been happening for a long time. Efforts to curb global warming, to limit the increasing global temperature and minimize the actions that continue this course of environmental degradation, are also necessary. But change is happening and people are acting accordingly. “You’ve got changing migratory patterns of different animals, either terrestrial or marine. You’ve got reductions of wildlife populations, such as caribou in this region. You’ve got new and emerging species that are being introduced into the Arctic, and that includes insects,” Duane said. “All of these are having some kind of effect on the sustainability of the ecosystem as we know it. Everything is trying to adapt to the changes that are taking place, and that includes the Inuvialuit people ourselves.” Food security, with such reliance on fishing, hunting and trapping, is a major challenge. It’s one of the reasons Inuit voices spoke loudly at the Paris Talks, Duane said. But those conversations are also happening in the communities. * In 1977 - David remembers it as the year he met his wife - caribou were a much easier catch. “The caribou were here in town, close to town, at the airport and coming up on the ice and all that,”

he says. Ulukhahktok is on the Northwest Territories’ western edge of Victoria Island - the calving grounds of the Dolphin and Union herds. “In the late 80s and 90s they started getting fewer and fewer and going to the mainland. Then the muskox herd went up so there was a lot of muskox, and muskox feed in the same feeding grounds as caribou.” The smell of muskox, he explains, is too strong for the caribou, driving them further away. “There’s some spots where they still migrate through … that’s where we get them now.” The change does mean longer trips out, and more money invested in the effort, says Susie Malgokak. But a changing environment is nothing new. “My mother used to tell me - she passed 30 years ago, I don’t know how she knew - but she said, you’ll be seeing different birds and animals. You’ll see different bigger animals,” says Susie. “She made a believer out of me.” I first met Susie at the Arts Centre in Ulukhaktok. She was dabbing brush on paper, making colourful prints of ulus, iglus and the land, sky and water she travelled. She was demonstrating the craft for the thousand tourists on board the Crystal Serenity, a luxury cruiseship that made port in the community on its pioneering trip through the Northwest Passage. That visit in itself marked a change. A couple days after the group has cleared out of town, we sit down for a cup of coffee. She’d been out berry picking the day before. When she was a child, before the hamlet of Ulukhaktok existed, her family lived 80 miles down the coast. “They used to use snow and ice for everything. There were no houses,” she says. “They were introduced to the white man style of living, and they no longer have to get snow and ice. But how would you use ice blocks if they’re all going away?” Susie was married October 9, 1967. Every year at that time, she and her husband would head out for a week or two at Fish Lake, outside of Ulukhaktok. It was a family affair. “We’d set up there and camp - even the young people would go out. We had to take our little babies,” she says. “The earliest I’ve ever taken my boy out was eight months old. I like it out there because that’s where my parents used to go, but it gets harder because you need more gas and more money - the road isn’t so good. But I used to love that.” Now, the rivers are melting faster, and the edges of the ice are sloughing away. As the changes come in, some people are still travelling in the way they used to, Susie says. And they’re getting into trouble. Her husband, before he passed, went through the ice in an area he used to travel out to frequently. Luckily, he was able to pick his way out with a screwdriver from his pocket and find help. “My dad used to always tell me in the springtime, ‘Be careful, you never know,’” she says. “Dad was gone years ago. I don’t know how he knew climate change was going to happen.” Warnings and stories about the impending changes have been a long time coming and continue. That is the reason sharing and listening is so important, as well as learning from what was once there. “They say this place will be ice free a few years from now,” she says. “Would you believe it? I would.”



It’s mid-August, and I awake to my tent lightly rustling in the wind. When I poke my head out, I find the warm glow of the midnight sun painting the shoreline of Darnley Bay. The smell of smoking char and fresh maktak fills the air. I rub my eyes and think to myself, “If this isn’t paradise, what is?” Last August, I was fortunate enough to spend 10 days with Tony Green, an Inuvialuit elder from Paulatuk, at Tippituyuyaq, his whaling and fishing camp. Tippituyuyaq is located across Darnley Bay from Paulatuk and is one of many traditional harvesting camps located inside the newly designated Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam Marine Protected Area (ANMPA).


The designation of this area means a ban, through federal legislation, on potentially impactful development activities such as commercial fishing and oil and gas development occurring in 2,361 square kilometres of the Beaufort Sea. The initial justification for protecting this area was based solely on protecting biological productive polynyas located at the Northern tip of Cape Perry. However, after a lot of hard work by the community of Paulatuk, with support from comanagement agencies, the marine protected area includes a significant portion of Darnley Bay. This area supports traditional harvesting activities and provides critical habitat for subsistence species such as char, ringed seal and beluga. This means that on top of the conservation objectives identified by federal scientists, the ANMPA will include conservation goals identified by the harvesters of Paulatuk. Tony Green and his brother Noel, along with others in the community, were instrumental in ensuring that these community objectives were well articulated and properly reflect the community’s perspective. The Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam Marine Protected Area won’t just act to protect the biologically productive waters of Darnley Bay, but also the subsistence lifestyle and culture supported by them.


A harpoon head at Tony Green’s camp.

Arctic char and whitefish hang to dry.

A ringed seal in the Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam Marine Protected Area.

The community of Paulatuk.

A sandhill crane flies above Paulatuk.

Whale hunters in Darnley Bay.

John Sam Green moves his boat by maktak that is being cleaned before hanging to dry.

Tony Green, president of the Paulatuk Hunters and Trappers Committee, checks his fish net.

Dennis Ruben checks a fish net.


Where I stand

In collaboration with

Words by Denali Whiting


o describe the land is to describe myself. What makes a landscape sacred? It is the very essence that allows my spirit to be sacred. The history of my ancestors and the story of our future is written in code throughout our ecosystem. This complex network composes my physical self and is the binding factor to my wellbeing as an Inupiaq – as a person of this earth. In many instances, I have found myself trying to explain and understand the entirety of what my culture means, especially when people ask about subsistence, regalia, values or language. You cannot explain one aspect fully without mentioning the others, the small pieces that contribute to the large. Our culture is like a puzzle, as clichÊ as that sounds. In viewing one piece alone, you are disregarding the whole picture. And the glue that binds this puzzle together is our land.

I have trained my mind to view things as holistically as possible because of this. It is almost insulting to single one aspect out. Not all of our “pieces” have to be shared with everyone else, but we need to understand that in showing how these pieces fit, we will better protect our land, which will protect our spirit. When some people think of “Eskimos,” they often picture what they have seen on TV. Where would you go to learn about “Eskimos” if you knew nothing about us? A museum, probably. Which museums might have the most thorough information? I don’t know about you, but I’d guess a museum in Alaska. Recently, I took a trip to the museum curious about what I would find. I walked over to the Northern section and stopped at a display case showing a pair of maklaks, which were labeled “Boots.” The rest of the placard described, “Reindeer, seal skin, leather, felt. Inupiat, Nome area. Ca. 1925, Seppala Collection.” This is what someone unfamiliar with our culture would see in an effort to learn about who we are. Although technically the information was correct, there was so much more that I wanted to know and that could be said about this single pair of boots. To describe these maklaks is to describe myself. Which puzzle pieces interlock? Let’s see. The maklaks had a “hard bottom” made of sealskin. To make these, you have to have a successful hunt. After separating the meat and blubber from the hide and setting it aside to be prepared in various ways for food, you work on the skin to tan it. Once it is tanned, it is crimped and shaped, and then you can sew the reindeer to it to create the leggings. The string was made of sinew. I imagined a beautiful Inupiaq woman carefully stitching the materials together with patience and purpose. I thought about the family structure at the time these were made. Was it her husband who harvested these pieces? Was the meat being frozen, stored, or maybe dried into paniqtak to be taken out as a snack for the hunters on their next harvest? I wondered if maybe her daughter or niece might have helped with the sewing. Likely someone was with the seamstress during this time, observing every stitch and

motion in detail during the process, engraining these steps in her mind. I thought of my own grandmother, Dora Wilson, making maklaks each year so that her whole family could stay warm. I wanted to share my thoughts with those coming to the museum to learn about our history. To learn about these boots. To see the whole picture. For our culture to survive, we need to have a healthy environment. The seals that we depend on for food and use for sewing have to be healthy. For the seals to be healthy, they need a healthy environment, the right temperatures, low disturbances in the ocean from outside sources and lots of food for them to eat. The same is true for caribou. They need lots of food and access to this food. They need a healthy migration pattern with limited outside disturbances. If our environment is unhealthy, our resources become stressed and unhealthy. If our resources are unhealthy, we are unhealthy. Physically, mentally, spiritually. It is the foundation behind the phrase “living a subsistence lifestyle.” This is what I mean when I say “to describe the land is to describe myself.” As for the pieces of the puzzle, I hope they stay vibrant and we don’t lose any under the couch. Follow EsquiMedia on Facebook to read their latest stories from Alaska.



SCHOONERS How the wooden boats helped shape the map of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region BY CHARLES ARNOLD TRANSLATION BY ALBERT ELIAS


a scene in the 1932 silent film, ‘Down the Mackenzie to the Arctic Ocean,’ the camera pans across a beach near Shingle Point on Yukon’s Arctic coast. In the midst of piles of driftwood we see the overturned keel and ribs of a ship identified in a title card as the Penelope, looking like the bleached bones of one of the whales it once pursued. Penelope had been brought to the Arctic in 1900 by American whalers who used it for two summers to hunt bowhead whales near Baillie Island. It was purchased several years later by Wallace Kunak, Charlie Kokotak, Jack Ilavinirk and Tulugak, men who had moved east from their home territories in Alaska at about the same time that commercial whaling extended into the eastern Beaufort Sea. They hired a sailor from the whaling fleet

as captain, and most likely to teach them how to sail the Penelope, but in 1907 the aging and worn-out ship was driven ashore in a storm and damaged beyond repair. The Penelope marks the beginning of what is sometimes called the ‘schooner era’ in Inuvialuit history, a period from the early to mid-1900s when large wooden boats powered by sail, and sometimes by auxiliary motors, that were owned and operated by Inuvialuit were a common sight in the Canadian Western Arctic – thanks mainly to the booming fur trade that provided trappers with the credit or cash to purchase them. Smaller open wooden whaleboats had also begun to replace traditional skin boats for coastal travelling and hunting in the early 1900s, but larger decked schooners could carry larger loads and were safer in rough waters.




-mi una agliutiyaq sayuktuq atilik ‘ Kuukpakkun Tariumun’ Tapqami, Yukon sinaani. Qiyuit akunrani umiaqpak pusisimayuq tulimaangillu ataalu nuimayut. Penelope atinga. Qatiqsiminirami arvirit saunritun. Penelope maunga qarritinigaat America-min 1900 auyami. Malriutuqluni arviqsiurutauniqtuaq Utqaluum qaningani. Taima aasiin ukuat Inuvialuit niuvirnigaat, Wallace Kunak, Charlie Kotokak, Jack Illaviniq, unalu Tulugak. Alaskarmiut. Tanik ikayuqtingat.

Ilisaruklutikiaq umiam aulajutaagun. 1907 auyami Penelope utuqqaliblunilu ami ungalqpaum tipiblugu nunamun siquminniga. Suriiqlugu. Umiaqpak Penelope sivulliuyuaq maani. 1900-mingaaniin 1950-nun Inuvialuit umianiktuat tingilrautilgit ilangit ingniqutilgit ilangit. Inmingnik aulallugit takunaqiyuat taimani. Tiriganianik akilillugit niuviqtat. Mikiaqtunik umiuyanik anguniaqtaliqtuat. Umiat amminik sanayat ungavausiqlugit. Aglaan angitqiyat umiaqpauyat usialguviktut. Tariumilu nakuutqiyat.

Photo courtesy of the Shepherd Collection, Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre

Umiaqpauyat ingilraan Nunaptingni

Photo courtesy of Mrs. Peter Sydney Collection/ Library and Archives Canada/C-38533


Simon Bennett and Fred Carpenter taking a pause while winching the Blue Fox on shore for the winter, Uluksartok [Ulukhaktok], Fall 1933.

Technically, ‘schooner’ refers to a boat with fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts, the foremast being no taller than the rear mast(s). In the Western Arctic, the term came to be applied to decked boats with sails in general, regardless of how many masts they had or how their sails were rigged. Some schooners were powered only by the wind in their sails. Other schooners had auxiliary gasoline or diesel motors installed at the shipyards where they were built or were retrofitted with engines after they were brought north. In ‘I, Nuligak,’ Bob Cockney recalled a time in 1920: “At Tapqaq [Shingle Point] we were expecting the big supply ship. Shouts were heard: ‘Ukka … umiaqpauyaq!’ ‘A little-big ship – over there!’ It had no sail to catch the wind. It was coming toward us, to the amazement or the people, and really speeding. The [Inuvialuit] had never seen a

little-big ship such as this one. It had a fire-machine and belonged to … Dennis Annaktor [Annaqtuuq].” The first schooners (and whaleboats) acquired by Inuvialuit were, like Penelope, part of the American whaling fleet that operated in the Beaufort Sea in the late 1800s and first years of the 1900s. In later years schooners were ordered through various trading companies. The Hudson’s Bay Company and Northern Traders Company shipped schooners built in Edmonton by rail to waterways in northern Alberta, where they continued their journey lashed to barges that took them along the Athabasca, Slave and Mackenzie rivers to Aklavik. The Canalaska Trading Company shipped schooners along the coastal route from shipyards in California to Herschel Island on the deck of their supply ship, Patterson.

Photo courtesy of Archibald Fleming Collection/NWT Archives/N-1979-050:0011 Boats at Aklavik, circa 1930s-1940s. The schooners Saucy Jane and Golden Hind each had a single mast. Kotsik had two masts.

Umiaqpauyat ‘schooner’ tingilrautilgit napaqtilgit malrungnik. Sivuani napaqtinga takiyuq. Aqutjviani naittuq. Ilangit umiaqpauyat tingilrautilgit ingniqtaitut. Ilangit ingniqutiruaqtut. Sannaitut. Bob Cockney-nim quliaqtuamini ‘I, Nuligak, itqagimayait 1920-mi uvva aglaktait. “Tapqami (Shinle Point”) umiaqpak niriukikput. Ququaqtut tusarnaqiyuat: ‘Ukka…umiaqpauyaq!’ Tingilrautaittuq. Kayumiktuq qaimayuq tungiptingnun. Inuit quviasuktut. Inuvialuit taimani umiaqpauyamik takusuittut. Dennis Annaqtuum umiariniga ingniqutilik.

Sivulliit umiaqpauyallu umiuyallu Inuvialuit niuviqpagait taimani arviqsiuqtit maunga qaigamik 1800 nungunialirman 1900 aullaqiblunilu. Kinguvani Inuvialuit niuviqtaligait ukuannin: Hudson’ Bay Company ukuallu Northern Traders Company. Edmonton-mi sanayat. Tajvanga aksaluutikkun usiaqlugit sivullirmik. Kuukpait Athabaska, Slave, Mackenzie-lu malirullugit aasiin umiatigun usiaqlugit Aklarvingmun (Aklavik). Taavyuma ‘Canalaska Trading Company’ qarritivagait umiaqpauyat tariukkun California-min Qikiqtaryungmun. Umiaqpaum ‘Patterson’ usiaqlugit.


Most schooners had names. Some, like Saucy Jane, and Golden Hind, were named by the trading companies, or by the southern shipyards where they were built. Others, like Amos Tumma’s schooner Kotsik (‘high’ in Uummarmiutun dialect), were more likely named – or perhaps renamed – in the North. Living memories, old photographs and archival documents record the names of more than thirty Inuvialuitowned schooners, and some say the number was closer to fifty. With sturdy schooners, people travelled from the Delta and Tuktoyaktuk to distant hunting and trapping areas, often sailing through rough seas and icy waters while loaded down with tents, dogs, fuel, food and other supplies needed to be self-sufficient for months at a time. Compasses were unreliable and maps were non-existent, so Inuvialuit navigated at sea using the same skills they used when travelling on the land, by observing landmarks and stars, and relying on their intimate understanding of weather.

Hauling the “Sea Queen” bound for the Mackenzie Delta over the Smith Portage on the Slave River, June 1928.

Photo courtesy of the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre

Far from their home ports, Inuvialuit sailors had to rely on their ingenuity if repairs were needed. Emmanuel Felix told a story about a time that Sydney Ayak helped fix the engine of Paul Adams’ schooner Omingmuk, which raced uncontrollably when it was started. He studied diagrams, determined that a missing governor was the problem, and made a new part from a piece of steel. Charles Gillham, a wildlife biologist who worked in the western Arctic in the 1930s and 1940s, heard a story about Fred Carpenter and Fred Wolki fixing a bent rudder shaft on their schooner North Star of Herschel Island when they were at a trapping camp on Banks Island: “Inland several miles, they found a vein of poor quality coal. They obtained a bit of this with their dog teams. With packing box boards they made a framework of bellows and their women made a sealskin cover for it, sewing the seams and greasing them airtight. With this outfit they made a forge, and removing the crooked rudder shaft, heated it and beat the heavy iron out straight again.” Fixing problems with schooners didn’t always fall on the men. In one of the stories she told to Father Robert Le Meur for broadcast on Tuktoyaktuk’s community radio station, Persis Gruben told about making a sail for the schooner Reindeer from a canvas tent when they were having engine problems. She also spoke about another time, when the engine wouldn’t start: “I watched the men busy working on the engine, dismantling parts and reassembling them to no avail. The batteries seemed to be dead, and the men weren’t able to charge them enough for the engine to turn over. I got an idea that made my husband [Charlie] and Willie [Gruben] and Timothy [Lennie], laugh. ’Maybe if you used the small motor from the washing machine to charge the battery, the engine could start,’ I said. They made fun of me and asked me if I was planning to do the wash once the engine was running. I let them laugh, and I went about connecting the washing machine’s engine to the dynamo, using a belt, while the sailors looked on smiling. And the impossible happened.

Angus Elias’ schooner ‘Fox’ in its final resting place in Sachs Harbour.

Photo courtesy of George M. Douglas photo/Richard Finnie fonds/NWT Archives/ N-1988-009: 0113

Tamarmikapsak umiaqpauyat atilgit nutim. Ilangit atchitqikpagait Inuvialuit. Amos Tummam umiaqpauyanga ‘Kotsik’ atinga. Quliaqtuaninlu agliutiyaninlu makpiraanilu Inuvialuit umiangit 30 sipisimayungnaraat 50 qanimaklugu. Uumarminlu Tuktuuyaqtuuminlu Inuvialuit taimani sanguvaktuat umiaqpauyakkun sumunliqaa anguniarvingnunlu naniriaqturvingnunlu. Ilaanni malikpangmi sikut akunranilu. Usiaqpalgit suaryumingnik inuujutiksamingnik. Allanik ikayuutiksaittut. Nunauyaittut. Ubluriallu nunalu silalu nautchiuqlugit kisian.

The North Star of Herschel Island.

Inuvialuit taimani sapiqsaitut. Paul Adam umiaqpauyanga ‘Umingmak’ ingniqqulliurman Sydney Ayak tiliniga. Iltchurigamiung summangaan sanabluni savisungmik nakurutqarait ingniqutit. Charles Gillham, niryutinik savakti quliaqtuaq. ‘North Star’ umiaqpauyam aquutinga pirinman Fred Carpenter uumalu Fred Wolki tutqiqsarnigaak. Nanirijiqiblutik taimani Banks Island-mi. “Nunami qanini aluamik paqitchigamik qimmilyaqlutik ainigait. Qanuqliqaa qiyungnik kigiunirnin pukuklutik tutqiqsaqlugu sanayuak. Arnat natchiit aminginik miquqlutik mitimariksiblugit. Aluamik naniaqlutik aumaryibkaqlugu aquutim savisua nakiqsimiyaak nakuruqlugu.” Ilaanni arnat ikayuqtauvangmiyuat angutinun. Father Le Meur quliaqtuaq naalautititgun Tuktuuyaqtuumi uva: Umiaqpauyaq ‘Reindeer’ ingniqulliukirman Persis Gruben tingilrautiliurniqtuaq tupirmik. Ingniqtit aullariirmata: “Angutit takunnakaluarapkit ingniqutinik savaktuat aullaqilaittuq. Isumamnik quliutigapkit tuvaaqatiga Charlie Gruben, ukuaklu Willy Gruben, Timothy Lennie iglaakiqtuat. Iqaqsivium ingniqtait aturupkiluuniin battery suamangniarungnaqtuq. Ingniqutit aullaqiniaqtuat”. Iglautigiyaanni angutit. Iglaataqtilutik savvaqsiyuami uvapkun. Takunnakaannga qungupsungauyaqtut. Ingniqutit aullaqtitqaitka! Ilanni umiaqpauyakkun aulayuni quvianaqpalaayuittuq. Agnes Nigiyom quliaqtuanga uva: 1930 ukiungini Johnny Togluk umianga anuriqpaum tipita Victoria Island sinaanun. Ulurianaraluaqtuq timmungniqtuat tamarmik: “Anuraavut tariititat sivvuakitqaivut. Atipsaaqlugit aasiin. Alanik anuraaksaitugut ami. Sinaa qiyuuniqluni quyaliyainni. Pukuklunga qiyungnik naniakiqtuami. Umiaq siqumittuaq. Tupiq tipiman sinaanun tigublutigu angutit napagaat. Uquutikput. Toglutkut aliyichaktuat surautitik ulapinmata. Suivialuklutik). Qanurliqaa inuuniapaluktuat tajvani.

Photo courtesy of Mrs. Peter Sydney Collection/ Library and Archives Canada/PA-027649


On the first try, the motor coughed a bit then turned over. I had won the challenge.” (Translated from Inuvialuktun by Father Le Meur) Not all memories of schooners are happy ones. Agnes Nigiyok recalled the time in the 1930s when several families had a close call when a schooner owned by Johnny Togluk was driven by the winds and current against some cliffs on Victoria Island. They had to struggle to get onto shore: “After a while we all wrung out the salt water from our clothes. Then we put them back on because that’s all we had. The place where we had gone into the shore had quite a bit of wood so I gathered wood together so that I could start a fire […]. The ship broke up into pieces. Among some of the things that were on top […] was a tent and it came to shore. So we all got it untangled and the men put it up. At least now we had shelter. The Togluks were crying because they lost all of their things. All of their tea, sugar, coal, and other things”. Fortunately, they were able to live off the land until freezeup, when they were able to join other Inuvialuit families further north at Walker Bay. A greater tragedy occurred in 1944 when Rufus Kaliałuk’s schooner sank near Cape Dalhousie during a storm. Eleven people died in that disaster. By connecting Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok and Paulatuk, and intertwining their histories, schooners helped to shape the map of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. But by the mid 1960s the schooner era was at its end. Many of the schooners had been wrecked, or were at the end of their useful life and were brought on shore for the last time. Memories of those times, and of the schooners, live on, and there are visible reminders of the era. Angus Elias’ schooner, Fox, sits on land in Sachs Harbour, and North Star of Herschel Island, the largest schooner in the Inuvialuit fleet, is moored in Vancouver, still ship worthy eighty years after she began her career in the Arctic. The following sources were used in writing this article: Bob Cockney, I, Nuligak; Richard Condon, The Northern Copper Inuit – A History; Emmanuel Felix, Kitigaazuit Oral History Project; Charles E. Gillham, Raw North; Father Robert Le Meur, Memories of the Arctic; Bruce MacDonald, North Star of Herschel Island. ‘Down the Mackenzie to the Arctic Ocean’ by Richard S. Finnie can be viewed on the National Film Board of Canada’s website.

North Star of Herschel Island on the deck of the Canalaska Trading Company supply vessel Patterson, ready to be shipped from San Francisco to Herschel Island (1935).

Sikuman Inuvialuit Walker Bay-mi ittuat nayuakkigait. 1944-mi Rufus Kaliathluum umianga kivibluni 11 inuit imaqtauyuat. Cape Dalhousie-m qaningani. Umiaqpauyat quyallitauvialuktuat inuuniarvingnun ukuannun Inuvialuit Nunangani: Aklarvik, Tuktuuyaqtuuq, Sachs Harbour, Uluksaqtuuq, Paulatuuq. 1960-ni umiaqpauyat takunaiqtuat. Ilangit siqummilutik. Ilangittauq atutjairamigit nunamun qakillugit tutquqpagait. Angus Elias’ umiaqpauyanga ‘Fox’ qakisimayuq Sachs Harbour-mi. ‘North Star’ Qikiqtaryungmin Vancouver-mi ittuq. 80-nik ukiulik. Ukuat atingit aglaktat quliaqtuanginin una makpiraaq piyaq: Bob Cockney, ‘I, Nuligak’; Richard Condon, ‘The Northern Copper Inuit-A History’, Emanuel Felix, ‘Kitigaaryuit Oral History Project; Charles E. Gillham, Raw North; Father Robert LeMeur, Memories of the Arctic; Bruce MacDonald, North Star of Herschel Island. ‘Kuukpakun Tariumun’ (Down the Mackenzie to the Arctic Ocean’ Richard S. Finnie-m savaanga takunaqtuq qaritauyakkun, National Film Board of Canada.

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Two Great Years of My Life How I became Ulukhaktok’s fishing derby champion Words and photos by Nadine Klengenberg-Kuneluk


t was a calm day with no wind, and there was not a cloud in sight. It was the day the fishing derby began, the most exciting day of my life.

My parents and I were getting our gear set to go camping. They said it would be a long drive, so I played my favourite songs in my head and sometimes sang them while I was sitting in the sled. That made the wait go by faster, and before I knew it, we were at our destination. We were at our second home, where we feel free and forget about our worries like bills and taxes. I was 13, and I always felt weak. I wanted to fish, but my dad told me the fish where we were could grow up to my height - and I was 4’9” at the time. We set up camp and ate our lunch. We were ready to start drilling holes in the ice, or I should say my mom and dad were. (I was always helping them by getting the snow out of the way or just pushing the auger back upwards.) We left the canvas tent to find a spot to put our fishing hole, but when I went to look into the clear spot on the ice, which was next to where my parents wanted to put a hole, I saw the rocks at the bottom and noticed that the area was too shallow. I went to my parents and told them that this area was too shallow, and they both agreed that we should move. We found a nice spot without any wind and began drilling. After all the pushing and pulling my parents and I went through, we all felt relief when the auger cut through the bottom of the ice, which was pretty solid at the time. My mom told me to go and get her aullatiit (fishing jigger) and she put the hook into the water. It was the perfect depth - not too shallow and not too deep. When you hit the bottom, she told me, you rewind the aullatiit twice, so the fish think the hook is dying and would be easier to catch. A few minutes later, my mom

was pulling out fish after fish for 10 minutes and caught over 15 fish! I asked if I could try and she said, “Go and make another hole with dad.” When we finished, I took out the excess ice and looked through it, and I was able to see the bottom of the lake. It was pretty, and I wondered what it was like to live as a fish. I went to get my own aullatiit, and put the hook into the hole. After I put my hook in the hole my mom stopped catching fish, so she asked my dad if he wanted to make another fishing hole. They made one more, and my mom began to catch even more fish. For 10 minutes I waited patiently, not catching anything. I was getting bored and started yelling at the fishing hole to bring me fish. My mom heard and told me, “Say please!” I said please and thank you to the fishing hole, and less than a minute later I felt a small tug, but the fish came off. A minute later I felt another tug. This went on for the next five minutes, and each time they got stronger until my arm was pulled just above the fishing hole. I held on as hard as I could, and my mom started to giggle because she saw me shaking and pulling as hard as I could. My dad rushed over to help me pull the fish out of the hole. The fishing hook came off of the fish, but my dad clenched onto the gills, threw it five feet in the air and the fish slammed onto the ice. My face was red, my arms were tired, and I was gasping for breath. My whole body was shaking with relief, and I looked at the fish with great respect. It took me all my might to get the fish out. I was so thankful that the line held up, and I was thankful that my dad was able to grab the fish. He measured the fish across my body, and it stood to my collarbone. We all knew I would win first place because where else would people

get this kind of fish than from Ekakhakvik! The rush was over. After I ate some bannock and Klik to calm me down, I let my dad take over at my fishing hole, and my mom began to catch fish again. We spent the next day and a half fishing, and then it was time to head back to town. I never want to leave a place like Ekakhakvik, but I knew I had friends at home that wanted to see me. During the three hours heading back to Ulukhaktok I was daydreaming about what I would buy when I got the money for the largest fish. I wanted a new bike, but I also wanted a new iPod. What should I choose? When we got back home, I asked my dad if we could take my older sister Juliet and my younger brother Royce out to Airforce Lake to catch a small fish before it was too late. We ate supper and went as fast as possible because we wouldn’t be able to catch any other fish by midnight, as that’s when the fishing derby would be officially over. We drilled a hole by the shore, surprisingly didn’t hit the bottom, and put in a fly fishing hook to try and catch a tiny fish. (This is my favourite part of the fishing derby.) After a minute, small fish came for the fly fishing hook like mosquitos to a leech. I caught five and gave the fishing line to Royce so he could have a chance, and he caught a decent sized one. I checked which fish was the smallest and put the other lucky four back into the fishing hole. When we got back home, we were all tired from a long day of fishing. The day after, things went back to normal, but I still wanted my siblings to know what the fish’s strength felt


like. It was time to bring our fish to the weighing entry at the hamlet. When it was my turn to bring my fish to the scale, I had my dad carry it for me. I noticed that after I took off the garbage bag all the adults began to talk to the person beside them. I bet that they didn’t believe I caught that fish because it was so big. After I entered the other two fish, I felt like I would win all three categories for youth. I did win all the categories. First category was longest fish, the second category was heaviest, and last category was shortest, and I won all three. The cash prize all together was $650. I didn’t know what to buy so I spent it at the local store and bought my dad new snow pants which cost maybe half my winnings, but it was his prize from me for taking me and my mom out. I was excited for next year. The next year my parents and I went to camp in the same spot and the same things happened. We all caught at least ten fish, but we didn’t stay as long as the year before. I caught a fish big enough to win the longest fish category and caught myself a small fish again too. For the heaviest fish, I caught a fat short fish, and I was sure to win for the second year in a row. At the weighing, a lot of adults talked amongst themselves about my fish again. It showed that I was strong. I won $650 again, but I gave some of my winnings to my siblings. “Dini, we’re getting ready,” is the first thing I heard when I woke up. My parents were both discussing where to go, and it was decided that we were going to our favourite lake Ekakhakvik - to start off this year’s fishing derby. But a week and a half before the fishing derby was to start, my parents had

been at Ekakhakvik for what was supposed to be a weekend trip. However, instead an unsuspected turn took place. As I woke up on Saturday, May 14, it was almost noon and I heard my brother Royce yelling out the window saying, “Dad burned his feet!?” I went downstairs to find my dad removing his thick parka and snow pants, with everyone in the house gathered around him. Still shocked by seeing him this way, I blinked several times, but it didn’t help with the other confused faces of my little brothers and sisters. So I asked what had happened. My dad explained that he was pouring boiling water into two small cups for hot chocolate for himself and my mom, and then the pot holder slipped off of the rim and most of the water poured onto his right foot. After a few moments of silence, my dad told us that he had second-degree burns on the top of his feet, and warned us that you should always be careful with hot water no matter what. My parents had already gone to the nurse and had his feet disinfected and wrapped in bandages, but it seemed like the painkillers were just beginning to work. My mom told us she was glad that he didn’t go into shock, and so were we. Despite his injuries, we went fishing anyway. This time we set up camp at Ekakhakvik but didn’t sleep out. We went for three day-trips, each time catching more than ten fish. The first day was really slow, so we got home with just nine fish overall. When I woke up the next day, we decided we would try George Lake, so we geared up, ate, and left as soon as possible. I felt quite excited to be going to a different lake, especially one

that I hadn’t ever been to. My parents went there once and caught nice fish, but they didn’t know if there were any ihuut (large fish). Sure enough, my mom nearly caught an ihuut, but it came off near the bottom of the ice. This happened to her several times, and it looked really irritating to have that feeling of shock and excitement, and then suddenly have no more pulling on the end of the line. A few relatives came along to George Lake - my aunty Helen, uncle Larry, aunty Delma, cousin Grace and grandpa Joseph found us while on their way to Twin Lakes. By the end of the day, we caught at least 40 fish! It is always fun to run into relatives while out on the land. It was time for my parents and me to go home. It was almost 10 p.m. and we were tired as we all woke up in the early morning to get to the lake early enough to catch the lively and active fish and increase our chances of getting some ihuut. On our way home, I had a clear shot of two geese that I could have shot with my dad’s HMR rifle, but we just passed by them. I went straight to sleep when we got home so I could wake up rested for our last day trip.

excitement and cheering of my parents did not stop, which only made me feel more pressure to get this massive fish out of the little eight-inch fishing hole. Every time the fish stopped pulling, I would wind up the fishing line at least two feet more. After what felt like an hour of pulling and releasing, the head appeared inside the hole. I became more and more anxious to see what this fish looked like and pulled harder and harder so I could get it over with. On the brink of the ice, my dad grabbed the fish by its massive gills and once again pulled out a giant fish. Me, my mom and dad screamed with joy! Only we could hear our voices, like there was not another noise in the world. I loved that feeling. As the excitement slowly vanished, I became tired again, especially since this time I woke up at seven in the morning. Wanting to go home and sleep, I began packing up. The weigh-in time was 1 p.m. I was so excited I could barely wait, so I ate my lunch like there was no tomorrow! But then I ate so quickly I had 45 minutes until the hamlet was even open. After the agonizing wait, me, my mom and my dad went to the hamlet and surprisingly there were no children

After a well-needed breakfast, we were on our way to Ekakhakvik again. On our way there, I noticed there is a landmark - an enormous hill - that I could follow if I ever tried to go to Ekakhakvik by myself. This was my last day to catch a huge fish, so I panicked, but tried not to show it to my parents because they would either tease me or tell me to just have fun. After what felt like hours of trying and only catching three more fish, my dad suggested that we try a lake just a few miles north of Ekakhakvik. My dad used to catch seven ihuut in a row in a bay he fished at, so we tried the bay right next to it and caught almost 20 really fat fish! My dad told me my aunty would have enjoyed fishing on that spot because she likes having a good “fish fight”. We left the lake with a lot of fat-bellied fish, and the smallest fish I had caught in over four years. I was looking into the shallow hole - so shallow I could see the bottom - and using a small Pixee spoon hook. I could see several little fish attempting to eat the solid metal parts of the outside rim, and waited for a tiny fish to go near the treble and hooked it by the belly. Once out of the fishing hole, I laughed loudly and told my parents said, “Come look at this puny fish!” They probably thought, “What the heck?” because we’re used to getting such large fish at that lake. When we got back to our camp at Ekakhakvik, I decided we should chum the holes we made this morning. (Chum means cut up fish guts and boney pieces.) I tried to cut one up but only got halfway so my dad helped with the rest. I helped to put the pieces of fish into the holes. About an hour later we started catching more fish. After my mom caught four fish in a row they stopped biting, and I felt a soft tug on the end of my line, which soon turned into an aggressive pull. I tried to pull when the fish stopped swimming, but as soon as it felt me tug my arm went straight back down. This went on for five minutes, with both me and the fish struggling. I don’t think I have ever had such a longer fight like that with a fish, but five minutes began to seem long to me because my back and legs felt like they were nearly at their breaking point. The

in sight to compete with me. This made me feel sad, like one of those “winning-losers” who gets the trophy but doesn’t win the battle. I obviously could have beaten all of the adults again with my longest fish, which is why I wasn’t surprised when I found out I won all three categories again! I felt fulfilled. This is my story. I would like to thank my parents for always taking me out fishing and hunting, and my sister for always babysitting when I am not home to help. I also would like to thank Tusaayaksat for sharing my story with you! Happy fishing!

Nadine went on to win the Ulukhaktok fishing derby for the third year in a row in 2016.



North of 60

Arctic brides and grooms blend modern and traditional styles for weddings that are in a league of their own.


Words by Dana Bowen Photos by Glenn Guevara and Shayla Snowshoe

hether it is through bold patterns, stand-out shoes or an eclectic theme, Northern brides and grooms have a way of combining simplicity with extravagance and turning the very basics into something magnificent. Alayna Wolki and Churchill Wolki Jr. are just one example of this. The two celebrated both their love for each other and their favourite hockey team, the Oilers, in their 2014 wedding with decorations and a wardrobe that matched the team colours. The wedding photos took place on the ice at the Midnight Sun Recreation Complex. One photo depicted the bride and groom facing off on the ice while guests cheered them on in the background. “We were originally just going to have a purple and silver theme, but I told my husband, ‘You see those kinds of weddings every year,” Alayna says. “I told him, we should do something unique and have a hockey themed wedding. He didn’t hesitate because that’s his favourite sport and over the years we’ve been together, he has grown to love the Oilers as much as me and my family.” The couple hung jerseys, flags and orange and blue streamers across their venue, while also setting up a goalie net for guests to take photos with. Even the wedding party’s outfits were coordinated. While the bridesmaids’

dresses alternated from blue to orange with a sash in the opposite colour, the groomsmen donned orange or blue ties with black suits. Drum and square dancing played a big part in the festivities, which had everyone on their slipper-clad feet – many of which were made by Wolki’s aunt, Cindy Baryluk. “I believe it is important (to include traditional aspects) because it is our culture and it made us feel a sense of pride to incorporate the traditional dancing,” Alayna adds. “We had our family members playing for our traditional square dance and our local drum dance group helped us with the Inuvialuit drum dancing.” For their outdoors wedding, couple Amy Petrin and Paul Petrin took the nature theme to new heights. “Me and Paul got a cabin together 20 years ago, and ever since then, he said, ‘One day we are going to get married there,’” she explains. “He was always saying, ‘We are getting married at the 20-year mark at the cabin.’ He always mentioned it, but it didn’t happen.” The couple wedded in July of 2016 at their cabin on Raymond channel, just as Petrin’s husband had promised. Guests camped on the land the night before, but it wasn’t easy getting everyone – or everything – to the location. “The cake got delivered by helicopter. It was too wavy, and I wouldn’t let the cake on a boat ride so I ordered a chopper,” says Amy. “That was something - having ordered a chopper

for a cake.” The birchwood-inspired cake survived the ride untouched – the orange roses delicately perched on the edges of each tier. Topping the cake was a miniature groom trying to run from the bride as she pulls him back. A heart appeared as though carved into the bottom tier with P + A etched inside it. While the decorations were kept to a minimum, the theme of the wedding itself was camouflage – which appeared most notably on the wedding gown. “I was just googling cabin stuff. I wasn’t sure what kind of dresses I wanted, and this dress just popped up,” says Petrin. “It was the first dress that came up and I thought, ‘This is what I want.’ People kept saying, ‘You can’t have that kind of dress,’ and I said, ‘This is what I want. This is my wedding.’” While planning the big day, Petrin said the search engine became her best friend. With no prior ideas for décor, the bride-to-be searched different styles until she came upon a website based in New Orleans called Camo Formal, which carried just that - an entire line of formal wear in a camouflage pattern. Among the first few dresses she had flipped through was a white strapless gown with a lowered waistline, sparkling tulle and a camouflage back; Petrin knew she had found the one and ordered matching vests for the men. “That’s where I got the whole outfit from,” she says. “I got flowers from there, vests and bowties from there.” The rest of the outfits came from a website based in China, she added,


which were simple cream-coloured V-neck dresses. On their feet were brightly beaded slippers made by Ashton Semple – a friend and traditional artist in Aklavik. Ashton also made slippers for her sister Autumn’s wedding, who got married to Richard Storr Jr. this past August. Their wedding was first and foremost a reflection of the couple’s personalities. Both hailing from Aklavik, the bride and groom held their reception at Moose Kerr School and filled the evening with jigging, square dancing and waltzing. “We flew down Gustin Adjun from Kugluktuk, Nunavut and people from the community to play as the band,” said Autumn. The wardrobe stuck to a more classic look - bridesmaids wore simple yet elegant black gowns, while the bride herself donned a strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline and a strand of white pearls to match. The groomsmen wore tailored black suits with grey dress shirts and black ties. Throughout the photos, Richard can easily be spotted wearing electric blue high tops. “We didn’t think of it at all,” says Autumn when questioned about the choice of shoes. “We just put on shoes and went. Only after we saw the wedding photos did we notice them.” The couple made decorations to match with their chosen colour scheme of black, grey and white, with the help of the old faithful wedding planner Pinterest. “We just had different size logs, candles in mason jars and baby’s breath flowers down the aisle,” she explains. “We had a pallet wall we made ourselves, and everything was chalkboard-looking, and we also had one of those wooden stools for a cake table.” The rustic look has been a trending style among weddings both North and South in recent years but has been especially popular in communities where DIY materials are accessible. While each wedding was memorable in its own way, what mattered most was tying the knot and “just saying my vows,” says Amy.




fter mixing the flour, baking powder, milk and eggs it takes a half hour to an hour for the bannock to be ready to fry. “It depends how it feels,” says Bessie Inuktalik. “If it feels soft, I give it half an hour, let them mingle - get to know each other. If it’s hard when you’re trying to punch it, that’s when you know it needs more than half an hour.” The day before the luxury cruise ship Crystal Serenity made port in Ulukhaktok, Bessie spent eight hours in her kitchen.

Today, she’ll serve up bannock to its 1,000 passengers - at least those who come to shore. “We all need bannock. It’s part of our daily food,” she says. “Back then we didn’t have very much, but we always had bannock.” Some Northern communities are used to towering luxury cruise liners making port and unloading flocks of foreign, culture-shocked and often well-off travellers ready to scoop up local crafts and take in whatever unique experience they can in their short visit. Ulukhaktok isn’t one of them.

THE ICE The community of just over 400 on the western coast of Victoria Island is accustomed to smaller expedition ships coming through, usually 200 to 250 passengers at a time. And there’s certainly an industry of hunters, scientists and social scientists who make regular stops in the community for their own reasons. All of this adds up to a certain amount of tourism, but not a whole lot. “We’re happy to have visitors,” Bessie says. “We make them feel welcome, so they say, ‘Oh look, that’s the best

community. Let’s go back there,’ and it helps our community too. I always enjoy having people come. Even if you just came off the plane, we’re still happy to see you. It’s passed down to us, eh? Treat people the way you want to be treated. Treat them nice and everybody’s good to you.” With the arrival of the Crystal Serenity, the community greeted three times its population. The ship, endowed with six restaurants, a spa and fitness centre, movie theatre and casino, carved its way through the Arctic Ocean, and arguably



a path for many ships after it. Arriving at the mouth of Queens Bay on August 26, the Serenity spent a night anchored in the turquoise waters of the Arctic Ocean as Canadian customs agents cleared each passenger carrying passports from China, Germany and across the United States. A handful of Canadians were also among the crowd, dressed in bright red parkas doled out to each passenger on board - a perk of the steep ticket prices that ranged from $20,000 to $120,000. The next morning, the troops came to shore. The red jackets filtered out of black zodiacs, carrying up to 20 people at a time and making runs back and forth from the shore to the ship, populating the community with between 100 and 200 new faces every two hours. Any more than that, it was thought, would overwhelm the community. The media coverage around the ship’s arrival in Ulukhaktok, as well as some of its other stops along the 32-day journey, including Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, was far from glowing. Headlines ranged from ‘Do you live here all year?’ Nunavut community invaded by largest cruise ship in Arctic history, to A new Titanic? US and Canada prepare for the worst as luxury Arctic cruise sets sail. An opinion piece that originally ran in the online current affairs magazine Slate, and rerun as an audio essay by the CBC, went so far as to exclaim The worst people in the world are on a luxury mega-cruise through the Northwest Passage.

The risks of the venture were certainly there: the potentially devastating impact on the marine environment should there be a disaster, and the challenge posed to emergency response by the remote conditions and scale of the vessel. Community members, however, were more balanced in their opinions. In fact, the sentiment in town - had a few more media outlets sought it out - painted a very different picture. “It’s very exciting to show how we live here. Every two or three days, two times or three times a week we get airplanes and stuff like that … but there’s no other means of going in and out of the community,” says Susie Malgokak. “And see how the young and old, they are all together, planning on performing for the people? That is so good.” This isn’t to say the risks are out of mind. In fact, the impact of the changing sea ice that is allowing the ship’s passage is arguably felt more by the people of these coastal communities than anyone else. And as these waters open up, the ice thinning and clearing from the passage - that for so long locked out this sort of major-scale tourism it’s not likely to end here. Crystal Cruises are betting on the Arctic. In July, the company that operates the Serenity announced they had on order three 1,000-tonne polar ice-class cruise ships. According to the news release, each ship has the capacity for 1,000 passengers and as many crewmembers. The first of the fleet is expected in 2018.


By the numbers, it’s easy to see value in the burgeoning industry: early assessments suggest the community received upwards of $50,000 in arts & crafts sales alone over the 11-hour period that Crystal Serenity passengers jetted to the pebbled shore of Queens Bay. In addition, community members were subsidized for their roles in the experience - from acting as guides throughout the community, to keeping watch on Three Hills for any wildlife as groups of visitors navigated the dirt and gravel trail of the community’s lookout, to baking bannock to welcome the guests on shore.

Given the increased marine traffic along the Arctic Coast within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, the Inuvialuit Community Economic Development Office (ICEDO), through the IRC, is putting in similar legwork and looking at a Cruise Tourism Management Strategy. “The intent of this strategy would be to mitigate potential negative impacts of the industry on our land, water, wildlife and communities, but more significantly to ensure maximization of economic and social benefits for Inuvialuit beneficiaries and communities,” says Jackie Challis, project coordinator with ICEDO.

And in the end, the value needs to outweigh the risk. “There are concerns, and we’re not saying there aren’t concerns, but right now, the story is people have been engaged, there’s an opportunity for an economic impact, there’s an opportunity for a very positive social impact,” says Anne Kokko, tourism development officer for the Beaufort Delta. “People want this and if it changes, we’ll address that.”

The role of a steering committee for the strategy is currently being defined and, once established, this group will make plans for consultations on the strategy. Seeking input from all six Inuvialuit communities, as well as others with a stake or interest in this growing industry, the strategy could take up to two years to come together.

The costs of a rise in this sort of tourism are recognized not only by southern media, but Northerners as well. But the fact is, as these waters open, so do opportunities. Seeing both the benefit and the risk, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is looking at developing regulations, similar to what’s been proposed in Nunavut, around cruise ship tourism and traffic. In the eastern Arctic, marine tourism has quadrupled over the past decade, seeing not only more ships, but larger ones with more passengers. A report on this new strategy was tabled in June, with the new regulations coming soon.

Crystal Cruises is already selling tickets for its 2017 voyage through the Northwest Passage - the Ulukhaktok stop included. The usual expedition cruises of up to 250 people continue to pass through communities on the Western Arctic shores - a few were set to make stops on Victoria Island in the weeks after Crystal Serenity’s arrival. But like the Serenity, as sea ice - the proverbial gates to the Northwest Passage - recedes, big ships with even bigger impacts are likely to cruise on in.


leadership Through the Drum Kobe Keevik of Tuktoyaktuk travels to the other side of the tree line Words and photos by Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

“It’s important to teach our traditions, to continue a true way of life and learn everything real about life through hands‑on hard work and experiences without influences of modern society. To continue the Dene way of life and to strengthen their spirit, connect them to the spirits of the land, to enjoy the spirits of the land, to become capable being on the land. To have another culture like Kobe’s come over is good, to give him our spirit, the power of the land, to show him how to come on the land and respect it, how we feed fire and how we do things. What it does is give both cultures the tools of the modern society to carry on the heart of the past.” -Gilbert Cazon, Liidlii Kue First Nation


It’s very important to learn about other Northern cultures because we’re going to go extinct if nobody continues.” -DYLAN EVETALEGAK


obe Keevik is patient. He’s thoughtful. He’s soft spoken, and from an outsider’s perspective he has a habit of camouflaging himself into his surroundings, appearing as a secondary character in the action around him. But to his peers at the Leadership Through the Drum Camp in Fort Simpson, he was an undeniable leader - through the power of his quiet strength and determination to help the people around him. “Watching him, he’s going to become an excellent leader because of his patience, his attitude and how he carries himself so well,” says Mary Jane Cazon, a facilitator at the Dene drum camp. “Whenever you ask him for his help, he immediately jumps on and he’s able to help and just

cope with everything. Watching the way he moves, at a slow pace, I just know that he’ll be fine at the end. He’ll be able to go home with all the knowledge we have shared with him.” The Leadership Through the Drum Camp, a leadership camp for teenage boys, was held across the Mackenzie River from Fort Simpson Oct. 11 to 18. The camp, run by Northern Youth Leadership, a project of Tides Canada, was created to cultivate leadership in youth from across the North. Altogether, seven boys attended from the communities of Yellowknife, Hay River, Lutsel K’e, Fort Simpson, Cambridge Bay and Tuktoyaktuk. The participants helped to maintain the camp, learned survival and land skills, hunted grouse and moose, set snares for

rabbits, and made a traditional Dene drum from birch wood and moose hide. Northern Youth Leadership facilitators Ali McConnell, Shauna Morgan and Gordie Liske, as well as Gilbert and Mary Jane Cazon of Fort Simpson, led the camp. Although Kobe and his peers were strangers at first, the seven teens bonded throughout the week as they assembled their drums and slowly discovered the similarities and differences between their northern cultures. “I learned a lot at this camp. I learned how to make a drum. I learned that the Dene people show a lot of respect to their elders and their animals and their surroundings,” Kobe says of his experience in Fort Simpson. Dylan Evetalegak,

a participant from Cambridge Bay, agrees. “It’s very important to learn about other Northern cultures because we’re going to go extinct if nobody continues,” he says. Corbyn Kavanna-Klengenberg, also from Cambridge Bay, adds there’s “a lot to learn” about his neighbours south of the tree line. “There’s a lot to do out in the bush. I like it out here.” “With new kids from other communities, getting together, learning about everyone’s culture and how they do things, it’s been amazing and fun at the same time, all the stuff that’s been going on,” says Dacho “Wiseman” Catholique of Lutsel K’e. “It’s been a fun experience. I’m happy to take that home with me.”





“ I just like

going out hunting and being out on the land. It’s just like you’re free.” -KOBE KEEVIK HUNTER LAFFERTY, 14, HAY RIVER





A highlight for the participants was learning to make their own Dene drum in the bush from traditional materials, under the guidance of Michael Cazon, Gordie and Gilbert. “My favourite part of the trip: expressing my creativity, building wood boxes, brooms, candle holders and coat hangers with materials from the land, but the biggest part was making a drum,” says Dacho. “I guess the best thing that I loved is making everybody happy, and making my community and parents proud.”

because of the abundance of trees that we’re living in, and the animals. He just loved it. He also realized how important it is that we continue with our traditions and that he’s able to look at his culture and at ours and he’s able to see the differences, and still we’re able to come together. I noticed that with him. He’s a very excellent young man and he’s really working well with all the students, and he’s able to cope with whatever we were able to share here with him, and take that knowledge with him.”

Kobe already knew how to drum in the Inuvialuit tradition, but this was the first time he has tried drumming the Dene way. “It was very cool. You could just feel the beat in your heart,” he says.

Kobe says he will never forget the time he spent at camp, away from town and alongside his new friends. “I just like going out hunting and being out on the land. It’s just like you’re free.”

“During the time he was here, I realized that he really enjoyed our culture,” says Mary Jane of Kobe. “He found it so unique


KNEEL JU Words by Northern Games Society Photos by Nick Westover

Kneel jump is an Inuit game of strength passed on from generation to generation. When on the land, hunters need to be physically and mentally prepared to react quickly and swiftly to their changing surroundings. They need to be able to jump up and into action, jump across cracks in the ocean ice, or react in an instant to get themselves out of harm’s way. The kneel jump prepares them for anything that can happen.



James Day Jr. demonstrates the kneel jump.




Participants begin on their knees, sitting flat on their shins, with their feet flat on the ground.


Their knees should be tight together with their arms at their sides.


All in one motion, the participant uses their arms to propel their body upward and forward, keeping their body and toes straight.

After leaping forward, the participant should land on their feet in a squatting position.

Northern Games &


Participants begin by swinging their arms forward in a pendulum motion to gain momentum and speed.


The participant should land flat on their feet, without a bounce, and with their feet shoulder width apart.


The participant’s knees should remain on the ground while they lean forward and move their body upward.


The distance between the start line and the back of their heel is measured while they stand straight up. The participant who finishes the furthest from the start line is the winner.

Proper Techniques


o t t u o e m e k Ta

e m a g l l a b the

E H T N I L L A B E BAS F O Y R O T S I H A T THE L E D E I Z N E K MAC ndell Words by Mark Re vara ue G nn le G Photos by



uffs of smoke sputter up from the many‑masted ships locked in the ice off Herschel Island. At the top left of the tableau, sunlight spills like egg yolk through the clouds. A crowd gathers in a ‘V’ on the frozen bay, dozens of miniature whalers forming the edge of the most northerly baseball diamond in the world. Crack! You can almost hear the sound of bat meeting ball through the frigid air. The 1894 painting has become justifiably famous. Painted by Captain John Bertonccini, Winter Quarters at Herschel Island captures the moment — amidst the danger, adventure and debauchery of the 1890s Arctic whaling boom — that baseball arrived in the Delta. One hundred and twenty years on, baseball (at least in its slo-pitch variety) remains arguably the most popular summer sport across the region.

The sport came north with the dozens of American whaling vessels that roamed the Beaufort Sea in the last decade of the 19th century. They’d overwinter in Pauline Cove on Herschel Island, just off the Yukon coast and west of the Mackenzie Delta, to make the most of the few iceless summer months. “It was on the great national game of Base Ball that officers and men most depended to break the tedium of their long imprisonment and furnish needed exercise,” wrote General Frederick Funston, who visited Herschel in the winter of 1894, in an article for Harper’s Round Table. “All winter, regardless of blizzards and of bitter cold, the games went on, three or four a week,” he wrote. And the locals caught on too, with dozens, sometimes hundreds of people coming to watch the games.

“A fact that impressed me very much at one of the games that I saw was that the crowd of several hundred people watching our national sport at this faraway corner of the earth, only twenty degrees from the pole … was more widely cosmopolitan than could have been found any other place on the globe,” wrote the general, describing the crowd spectators and “Base Ball cranks” who hailed from as far afield as Japan, Hawaii and “every seafaring nationality of Europe.”

The sport’s next blossoming appears to have begun in the 1950s or early ‘60s. Gerry Kisoun suspects this was driven, at least in part, by the soldiers stationed at the Canadian Navy’s signals intelligence station in Aklavik, which opened in 1949, and later at Naval Radio Station Inuvik, which opened in 1963. “Inuvik armed forces played a big role. People used to go and do their service up in the High Arctic up in Alert and rotate out of Inuvik. They got involved in a lot of sports,” says Gerry.

Competition for the “Arctic Wheelman’s Pennant” wasn’t always fun and games though. The weather was often horrendous. And tensions could run high.

For many kids growing up at the time, though, ball was often an unorganized pastime. “Nobody had TV’s back then, just baseball and radio,” recalls Richard Gordon, who grew up playing baseball in Aklavik. He’s now a senior park ranger at Herschel Island. And like his ball-playing predecessors up there, his introduction to the sport was rather ad hoc. “We’d play on the runway. It was the only flat open place. We used to run out and put the bags down, start playing ball and stop when the planes came in to land,” he says with a chuckle.

Harston Bodfish, first mate on the steamer Newport, recorded this in his journal on April 11, 1895: “Thomas Mortimer stabbed George Hoynes... made an ugly cut on the upper left arm. Took 10 stitches in it. Knife used was a common sailors knife… Discussion over laying out a Base Ball Diamond the cause.” Following the collapse of the northern whaling industry by the first decade of the 20th century, there isn’t much evidence of baseball continuing as a major pastime, at least in the sense of organized leagues.

Likewise for Bridget Larocque over in Inuvik, who, along with several of her sisters, would become a key member of the women’s fastball league. She remembers playing “scrub” with her 10 sisters and 7 brothers: “It wouldn’t be a sanctioned game, it was just a family fastpitch game.”


She doesn’t recall when exactly Inuvik’s fastball leagues began, but by the early 70s they were in full swing. “When I started at age 12, 13 we had about four to six ladies teams,” she says. “The nurses of the hospital had a team; I think they were called the Ice Worms. Then you had the Canadian Forces wives, I can’t remember their team’s name. At that time I believe we were called Sunrise Helicopters.” On the men’s side, there were the two Canadian Forces teams, the Blues and the Insigs (short for Insignificants — the sergeants’ team), and a handful of local ones. The best were the Mules and the Arctic Painters, with the late and legendary Gordon brothers, Larry and Willie, pitching. “There was a time when four of us [Gordon brothers] played together on the Mules, but both Larry and Willie were good pitchers so the only way Willie could pitch was to join another team,” says Noel Gordon, Larry and Willie’s brother and a successful player in his own right. The competition was hot, in both the men’s and women’s league. So hot in fact, Gordon claims that the Canadian Forces teams would bring up players specifically to beat the local stars. “All they’d do is come up here, give them a desk job, and they’d play ball,” he says with feigned exasperation and an audible wink. The Inuvik teams, made of a mishmash of the best local players, would consistently do well in tournaments around the territory and down south. “We played in the territorials quite a bit, and we always seemed to get to the final,” says Noel. “But we just couldn’t get past Yellowknife. Always 2:1, 3:2 games, always had good games with them. It’s a lot of fun playing that kind of ball.

I wish we would have played it more often.” As for the ladies: “We were very competitive,” says Bridget. “I think it was the year 2000 that we actually competed in territorials and we had to beat Yellowknife twice. We did that, and we went to the Western B’s in Lloydminster, Alberta.” The fastball league peaked in the 1980s, then slowly declined after the Canadian Forces left Inuvik in 1986. It continued until the early 2000s, but eventually spluttered out all across the territory. “It got to the point of, ‘Oh is it even worth going anymore, there will only be one or two teams’,” says Bridget of tournaments. Many people still look back fondly on the fastball glory days when CBC would broadcast tournaments from Yellowknife and the bleachers at Inuvik’s ball diamond would be packed for local games. “We’d have annual banquets and trophies and medals given out. That was how organized we were. It wasn’t just a little community thing,” says Bridget. Although fastball fizzled, the baseball tradition, started all those years ago up in Herschel, is far from over. Over the past decade, slo-pitch has grown into the most popular summer sport, with eight teams playing in Inuvik alone this past summer. As for Herschel Island itself — there’s not much ball that happens there these days. Richard and other rangers occasionally play pickup soccer or volleyball against the visiting researchers. “But you don’t want to put a baseball through a window in one of the historic buildings,” he says with a laugh.


John Hickes feeds his sled dogs outside the Nanuq Lodge, which he runs with Paige Burt. Hickes has had his own dog team since he was 12 years old and plans to have one as long as he can walk. While he can’t run them in the summer he still has to make sure they are well fed, groomed and fit to race in the winter.

Gabriel scans the land for caribou with one of his daughters.

The ice floats in the harbour in Rankin Inlet in late June. Even though break-up begins much earlier in the year, large chunks of ice remain in the bay into July.



After a long punishing winter, people in Rankin Inlet are eager to get out on the land and enjoy the warm weather. Summertime in the North never lasts as long as some people would like, but that just means they make the most of it while it does. Whether it’s hunting, travelling by boat to visit family or swimming in one of many lakes, Rankinmiut are devoted to making the most of the midnight sun and endless tundra that they call home.

Three-year-old Richmond Niviatsiak watches his cousin Pelagie Niviatsiak skin a seal on her front porch in Rankin Inlet in July.

Emily Beardsall stands on the dock as her niece and extended family get set to make a trip down to Whale Cove for the weekend. Children swim at a small lake just outside of Rankin Inlet, while parents watch for bears from a truck on the hill. The swimming hole is popular among Rankinmiut who go there to cool off when the summer days get too hot.

An ATV rides through clouds of dust on the outskirts of Rankin Inlet. With so many people making trips on the land along dirt roads there is always dust being kicked up in the summer, especially on weekends when most people travel.

Gabriel returns from an unsuccessful hunt with his daughters after seeing a caribou from the side of the road between Rankin Inlet and the Meliadine mine.


WHAT DO YOU SEE? Inuvialuit share their land with animals big and small. In Tusaayaksat’s latest edition of language games, see how many animals you can identify in Inuvialuktun’s three dialects: Kangiryuarmiutun, Siglitun and Uummarmiutun. Words and translations by ICRC Illustrations by Sheree McLeod


1. Humik takuvit?

2. Ukalirmik takuyunga.

3. Tuktuvangmik takuyunga.

4. Amigaittunik amaqqunik takuyunga.

5. Amigaittunik tuktunik takuyunga.

6. Amigaittunik nannunik takuyunga.

WHAT DO YOU SEE? Inuvialuktun language games #9


1. Sumik takuvit?

2. Ukalirmik takuyunga.

3. Tuktuvangmik takuyunga.

4. Inuviaktunik amaqqunik takuyunga.

5. Inuviaktunik tuktunik takuyunga.

6. Inuviaktunik nannunik takuyunga.


WHAT DO YOU SEE? Inuvialuktun language games #9


1. Humik tautukpit?

2. Ukallirmik tautuktunga.

3. Tuttuvangmik tautuktunga.

4. Inugiaktuanik amaqqunik tautuktunga.

5. Inugiaktuanik tuttunik tautuktunga.

6. Inugiaktuanik nannunik tautuktunga.


1. What do you see? 4. I see many wolves.

2.I see a rabbit. 3. I see a moose. 5. I see many caribou. 6. I see many polar bears.

Aurora College On the Land

On-the-land field camps are a vital part of Aurora College programs, including the Environment and Natural Resources Technology Diploma. Instruction in the program is a unique blend of scientific techniques, traditional teachings from Elders, and bush survival skills.

“The combination of technical and traditional skills is critical. Understanding the language of both worlds makes these students more capable.” Joel McAlister, Senior Instructor, ENRTP Aurora Campus

The Aurora Research Institute supports and conducts research in the NWT, including research on the land and environment. If you would like more information about research taking place in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region or the NWT, contact the Aurora Research Institute or visit our Inuvik location (191 Mackenzie Road).

For more information: Aurora Campus (Inuvik) Phone Toll Free: (866) 287-2655

The Aurora Research Institute is the Research Division of Aurora College

Aurora Research Institute Phone: 867-777-3298

SUBSCRIPTION FORM ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION $16 (4 issues per year). That’s a whole year of awesome Inuvialuit news, culture and fun!

What is Tusaayaksat? Tusaayaksat is published by the Inuvialuit Communications Society from the Western Arctic of Canada. Tusaayaksat means “stories and voices that need to be heard.” We celebrate the Inuvialuit people, culture and heritage and bring readers the best coverage of our news, vibrant culture and perspectives. Why subscribe? Published quarterly, Tusaayaksat is an essential resource and forum for Inuvialuit views, culture, history and current events in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. For Inuvialuit, Tusaayaksat is like a letter from home, whether it be Ulukhaktok, Sachs Harbour, Paulatuk, Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik or Inuvik.


I would like to subscribe to two amazing years of receiving the lastest news from Tusaayaksat! For subscriptions, contact us or fill in the form below and mail it with a payment cheque or money order, addressed to the Inuvialuit Communications Society. Name Address Postal Code City Province/Territory

Support our mission: To empower, celebrate, communicate, heal and bond – and stay connected with a yearly (or more) subscription today! Phone Email CONTACT FOR INFO/ SUBSCRIPTION Email: · Phone: +1(867) 777 2320 · Address: Box 1704 Inuvik NT X0E 0T0

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Aurora College was named 28th on the list of Canada’s Top Research Colleges for 2016





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Profile for Tusaayaksat Magazine

Tusaayaksat Magazine – Winter 2016  

Tusaayaksat Magazine – Winter 2016