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Couple make Eskimo Point sign from rocks

A husband and wife have constructed a massive Eskimo Point sign out of rocks on the outskirts of Arviat.
Regalee Curley paints the rocks that she and her husband Joshua hauled to construct a massive Eskimo Point on the outskirts of Arviat in July.

A husband and wife have constructed a massive Eskimo Point sign out of rocks on the outskirts of Arviat.

Joshua Curly said he has been thinking of constructing the sign ever since 2008.

“I saw the one in Arctic Bay and I thought there should be one here,” he said.

Curley first tried building the larger-than-life sign closer to town in 2015 but the area was too flat for boaters to see. This summer he finally settled on a slightly inclined inlet on the east side of Eskimo Point, about five kilometres north of town.

Arviat got its English name “Eskimo Point” when whalers came north in the 1800s. That name stuck until 1989, when the community officially adopted the traditional Inuit “Arviat,” which means “the shape of a bowhead whale.”

While Curley accepts the name change, he said there are still people of his generation who cherish the community’s English name.

“I’m from Eskimo Point. I wanted to use the old name because it’s been there since the 1800s. Arviat is a new name. A lot of people miss the old name,” he said.

Curley started gathering rocks for the Eskimo Point sign with his wife Regalee Curley at the beginning of July. He used his all-terrain vehicle to transport the small boulders from the beach. In total, it took him and Regalee about eight trips and 186 rocks until they had enough to recreate the place name.

“I’m still a good trapper but my back was kind of tired after this, so I took a few days off afterwards,” he said.

After taking some downtime, he and Regalee returned to paint the rocks white so they would be more visible.

“We did have fun – just me and my wife – the two of us,” Joshua said. “When we were finished, we went about a quarter mile away and looked back at it and said: ‘Wow, look at that.’”

“She did a lot of work and she actually loaded more rocks than I did, but I’m still a trapper.”

Joshua has been a proud resident of Eskimo Point since moving there from Coral Harbour in the 1960s.

“I was still in school, maybe 17 or 16 (years old), the first time I came in 1966. We sort of got addicted to it so we finally moved here in ‘68. Part of my family was here, my sister was here a long time and other family. There is caribou around here. That’s the main food. So we just became addicted to it,” Curley said. “It’s got a good view. No mountains, but it’s a good place.”

Joshua has made a living from trapping all his life, though he has dabbled in carpentry, too.

“My dad taught me how to trap. I went to school down south but when I came back I didn’t even look for a job, I just said, ‘Let’s trap.’”

Joshua married Regalee in 1972. They have since raised nine children in Arviat – eight of them still live in town.

“I have 27 or 28 grandchildren. It’s kind of hard to count them all,” he said.

Joshua wanted to build the sign to show his family’s love for his hometown.

“Hopefully the Calm Air captains will see it.” he said.