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The Iqaluit cemetery.

Dreams and Dream Interpretation

In the materials recorded by Nunavut Arctic College students for previous publications, the topic of dreams appeared occasionally in some of the elders’ discourses. The dream experiences of students in the Inuit Studies Program prompted discussion between Susan Sammons, Alexina Kublu and Marja Korhonen, instructors at the college, Samuel Law, a psychiatrist at the Baffin Regional Hospital, and Stéphane Kolb, an anthropologist who had completed graduate studies at Université Laval. These discussions ultimately led to this project.

From January to April 2000, exploratory interviews on dreams were conducted with Inuit aged 15 to 45 years old, originating from different Nunavut communities and who had been living for several years in Iqaluit. The two interviewers, Samuel Law and Stéphane Kolb, paid particular attention to uqumangirniq, which was described by the majority of the interviewees as a particularly strong experience. These interviews helped both instructor Stéphane Kolb and students of the Inuit Studies Program to prepare for a special topics course entitled Dreaming in Inuit Culture, held during the fall of 2000.

Three elders, Agiaq (George Kappianaq) from Iglulik, Pisuk (Felix Pisuk), and Ka&&ak (Salomie Qalasiq) from Kangiq&iniq, were invited to participate in the course. The students conducted the interviews over a period of two weeks, in a classroom which was made as comfortable as possible. The students were Lorna Arnakak, Josie Arlooktoo, Aksatungua Ashoona, Selina Kisa, Johnny Kopak, Simeonie Nutaradlaluk, Andy Ootoova, Trina Qaqqasiq, and Kilaja Simeonie.  

Felix Pisuk
I used to have this dream when I was young, when we were living along the shore. If I dreamed that there were going to be caribou, and there wasn’t a rainbow in my dream, I would dream that the tide would be high and that the land would be low. This too was a dream that a number of angakkuit had. Then I knew that there would be a lot of caribou. I would have that dream and I would know that wherever we were living we would have an abundance of game. Some people don’t pay enough attention to their dreams. It seemed that the ones who followed their dreams were the more successful ones. Nowadays, there are so many things that make our lives so easy we don’t follow our dreams as much. (Page 76)