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Rankin Inlet Elder builds iglu garage for daughter's all-terrain vehicle

There are many things in the North that share a common thread with our southern neighbours, we just go about things a little differently in our climate. Call it Northern style.

You drive past high schools and post-secondary schools in the south and you see all manner of automobiles and motorcycles basking in the sun, and it isn't hard to tell the ones that have a need for speed.

A sudden warm spell has Andy Aliyak dealing with stubborn snow as he builds an iglu garage for his daughter's ATV this past week in Rankin Inlet.
photo courtesy Germain Aliyak

When one walks past Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik during most of the school year, a number of machines are almost always lined up side by side and, just like in the south, the ones built for heart-pounding speed are never hard to pick out.

And, when one takes a little ride around suburbia in the south, one sees all their garages, big and small, protecting their vehicles from the weather and providing a little space for minor repairs and regular maintenance.

In the North, if one has a daughter who needs a little protection for her ATV — and one happens to know his traditional skills — one simply builds an iglu big enough to house the machine.

And that's exactly what Andy Aliyak, 65, did in Rankin Inlet this past week.

Aliyak said everything was going smoothly until a two-day warm spell hit and the iglu started to cave in.

He said he waited for the good snow when the weather turned cold again and fixed it up properly.

I built the iglu to keep my daughter's Honda away from the blowing snow,” said Aliyak.

It's like a little garage where she can park it every night so it's not being battered by the weather all the time.

Normally, it would only have taken me about half a day, but the weather didn't co-operate with me.”

Aliyak said as a boy he used to go out on the land with his dad, Moses Aliyak, and learned how to cut blocks and build an iglu by watching him.

He chuckles as the memories come flooding back, lamenting the fact that for a while he did a lot more watching than doing.

I guess you could say I was a late bloomer at 14,” he laughs.

Some of my cousins were only about 12 when they started making small iglus. It was the same for my brother-in-law, David Oolooyuk, who was only about 12 or 13 when he first started.

I still think it's a little funny though, being a late bloomer at the grand old age of 14.”

Aliyak said he worries a little about how much time young Inuit spend playing video games instead of learning traditional skills.

He said he was able to teach some of them through their school programs, and then Covid-19 came along and that was the end of that, at least for the time being.

I think things have gotten out of hand with the kids today and all the technology they just can't seem to be without.

If they're not parked in front of PlayStation they're staring at their phones for hours at a time.

Many of them, just like my son, think traditional skills are just for the old guys, but they're not just for the old guys.

I tell them all the time if they're ever caught out on the land in bad weather — or their machine breaks down — knowing how to build an iglu will save their life. Then, maybe, they will grow to be old men too.”

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