Twenty Kinngait youth, most with little on-the-land experience, got a chance to go fishing and sealing on July 30 and 31 thanks to Chris Pudlat Sr.
“What motivated me was there are so many youth in Kinngait that aren’t able to go boating or fishing,” he said. “Our youth need to be out more in our beautiful land and sea. Too many in Nunavut have nothing to do, not enough recreation or hunting in our communities. (The) response was great from many young people and their parents. One of the young men had never gone boating before in his life. It turned out greater than I thought it would – only problem is I couldn’t take everyone that wanted to go.”
Among the 10 youth who went out on July 31 was 17-year-old Iola Lampron. Although he has done some fishing and hunting before, he enjoyed seeing the pleasure the experience brought to some of his peers.
“It was amazing to see them smile and happy, and my highlights on that trip was learning from an Elder,” said Lampron, noting that the Elder taught him the names of various campsites. “And the trip made my mindset better – it was therapy out there.”
Pudlat, who obtained funding from the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) to support the initiative, enlisted help from his wife Maata Pee Pudlat and his father-in-law Salomonie Pee during the excursions.
Although no seals were caught and only a few char were pulled from the net, the youth were able to visit areas well known to hunters such as Qurluktuk, approximately 13 kilometres from Kinngait, and Pullat, which is about 24 km from the community. They were out on the water from morning until evening.
“It’s important for the youth to hunt and go fishing because you’ll need to know how to survive out on the land and you’ll need to feed your family with soul food,” Lampron said.
Pudlat Sr. said he picked up his hunting skills from relatives and friends, even though he didn’t initially have a major interest in it like his brother did, despite their father lacking a boat and hunting gear.
“When I was able to start getting my own equipment, I started going out with more experienced hunters, starting with my late uncle Elijah Pootoogook, my father-in-law Salomonie Pee and good friend Emataluk,” he said.
With strong demand from youth and some Kinngait residents suggesting that a similar trial hunting program for adults would be worthwhile, Pudlat Sr. said it’s possible that he’ll organize similar outings in the future.
“I would like to do it again sometime, depending on QIA approval,” he said.