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Agiaq: Recollections of the Past

George Agiaq Kappianaq
There were more than one of us whose lives were affected by angakkuit. When I visited other communities, I would be told about this. When I was a child, I experienced something I didn’t like and because of that I have always prayed. I did not like the feelings I had during that experience. Even though my brothers were angakkuit they would go to church. They would pray. Nobody in church would ever say to them, “You are an angakkuq”. You cannot tell just by looking at someone if he is an angakkuq. There are those who really believe in angakkuit. They can really feel the presence of an angakkuq with their whole body.

There will always be angakkuit until the end of time.

Travelling and Surviving on Our Land, Chapitre 1, p. 26.
In chapter one, Agiaq Kappianaq tells us about his family, his childhood and his young adult’s life. Born in 1917, Agiaq grew up in the Salliq area with his close family: his father Kappianaq, his mother Uviluq and his siblings. His father was a skilled hunter and so they were able to live on their own, as his father wanted.

In the course of the interview, Agiaq remembers the kind of games he liked to play as a child. He also talks about learning how to hunt with Kappianaq and how his first kill (a large bull caribou), was a happy event for the family.

In this interview, Agiaq also recalls life in Salliq before Christianity. He describes how the angakkuit could use their powers and the rituals they would perform, like sakaniq, irinaliutiniq or qilaniq. Several members of Agiaq’s family were angakkuit.

When Agiaq’s family moved from the Salliq area to the Baffin area, Agiaq became a Christian. He tells us about the siqqitirniq ritual he went through while he was still a boy. People would take part in this ritual when they wanted to change their beliefs. Agiaq and his family then lived in the settlement on Avvajja island near Iglulik. He remembers that there were more people there, but that all were related to him. In Avvajja also lived the leader Ittuksaarjuat and they used his skin boat to hunt walruses.

Finally, Agiaq tells us about encounters with tuurngait. He then remembers the tragic loss of his granddaughter taken away while she was playing outside.