Matthew Kunangnat loves to get out on the land when he can, and his family obliges.
One spring day in 2018, Winnie Seeteenak snapped a photo of her “cool dad” doing what he loves – which that day was ice fishing out at Big Hips Island outside Baker Lake.
“He loved to fish and hunt. When the weather warms up and when it’s not too slushy, and when we’re all able to help each other, that’s when we like to take him out,” said Seeteenak.
Moments after Kunangnat caught his first fish, his wife Mercy cooked it up right there on the ice for lunch.
Seeteenak’s image won the March 18 Nunavut News Amazing On The Land photo contest, and it’s been seen by almost 11,000 Facebook users, liked by 658, and shared by 98.
When Seeteenak received the $100 for the most-liked story the week she submitted it, she gave the money to her father and sent that photo to Nunavut News, as well.
“Here he is surprised,” stated Seeteenak. “Once again, thank you for liking his fishing picture. Love my cool dad Matthew Kunangnat.”
She says she gave him the money “because he’s always needing this and that.”
“He doesn’t go out anymore. He sends either me or his grandkids to go out to buy this and that because he’s very elderly now.”
Kunangnat has five children, including his eldest Seeteenak, a dozen grandchildren, and seven or eight great-grandchildren.
“He works around, outside the house. But he doesn’t go shopping anymore unless we take him out. And he loves to have his Copenhagen, his snuff,” said Seeteenak.
“Anything to ease his mind, and what not. He’s always on the go, but everything slowed down when he got blind.”
What Nunavut News readers couldn’t know is that 80-year-old Kunangnat caught the most fish the day the winning photo was taken. Not a surprise considering he was the family’s provider until he was blinded in a welding accident more than 30 years ago.
“He used to be on the search-and-rescue, and he used to be a carpenter and he loves the outdoors,” said Seeteenak.
Despite Kunangnat’s blindness, his skills were still sought out by the community.
“Sometimes the search party, even though he’s blind now, they used to come to him to double-check where they should go. They would get some pointers from him,” said Seeteenak, adding he’s a well-respected elder.
She calls him her “cool dad” because of her own respect for him.
“I try to do my best for him,” she said.
Since the Amazing On the Land photo contest launched in December 2017, there have been 65 weekly winners of $100.
“The Amazing On the Land Contest has given readers an incredible window into the lives of Nunavummiut, doing what people in Arctic love to do, getting out on to the land and sharing their stories with each other,” said managing editor Mike W. Bryant.
“It’s been a big hit and I’m always wondering what amazing photos will show up in our inbox next. We’re honoured that we can help spread people’s passion for the land for others to enjoy.”
Photos can be submitted via the Nunavut News Facebook page by private message.