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Photo Ours polaires couleur

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Travelling in Alarnaarjuk, the Melville Peninsula

George Agiaq Kappianaq
On the mainland we did not go to the central area often, especially towards the west, where there is a place called Isiriaq. Even when you are close to this hill, it looks as though it is far away. It seems to be shimmering. When people were out caribou hunting, they never camped nearby. They did not even climb up on it to search for caribou. You would hear voices of people that were not part of the group you were with at that place.

In the inlets there is another place called Pingurjuaq. There is an inuksugaq up on top of it. People rarely went on top of that hill. People did occasionally climb it, whereas they never climbed Isiriaq on the west side. Further south there is a place called Kaaksaq. If you had a tent near the top, you would hear the sound of laughter all night long, even more than at Isiriaq. It was said that when my father and people his age were growing up, before we started living in Maniituq, they went fishing around there, when the fish were spawning upriver at a place called Ikiq. They could hear the sound of people all night long. Fish do not always run in that river. Maybe there were tarriassuit who did not want people to come around.

Travelling and Surviving on Our Land, Chapter 3, p. 80.
Chapter three presents Agiaq’s experience of travelling on the land. He talks first about his dogteams and shares his knowledge about dogs: how to raise them, train them and care for them. We learn through Agiaq’s recollections how dogs can be useful in many different ways to Inuit. Agiaq also describes important things that one needed to know when travelling. For example, it was very useful to know the different types of snow to avoid dangerous situations like avalanches. He also talks about how necessary it is to be able to predict the weather by watching clouds. Moreover, Inuksuit and stars were very helpful as they could be used as guide during his journeys.

Agiaq remembers how he travelled to different places depending on the time of the year: as seasons changed, different animals would be hunted. Travelling and hunting meant sometimes going through dangerous places and Agiaq recounts his own encounters with ijirait. He also shares what he knows about other kinds of non-human beings, like qallupilluit and taliillajuut. There are places that people would avoid because they know beings lived around them. Places could be dangerous for different reasons, and Agiaq recounts the time when he and his wife fell because of snow overhanging a cliff.

Towards the end of the interview, Agiaq remembers that he would come across Tuniit campsites when travelling and shares what he knows about Tuniit.