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Baker Lake hunters land 40-foot bowhead whale in historic hunt

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Baker Lake's bowhead hunters pose for a group photo before setting out on their hunt. photo courtesy of Craig Simailak

A group of Baker Lake hunters made history on Aug. 15 by harvesting the community's first ever bowhead whale. The hunters set out from the inland community on July 27, making stops in Chesterfield Inlet and Naujaat along the way. After more than three weeks on the land and on sea, the community's mayor Richard Aksawnee made a Facebook post on August 16 announcing the hunters had successfully harvested a forty-foot bowhead.

“A historic day for Baker Lake,” Aksawnee wrote. “A group of hunters left Baker Lake on the 27th of July in hopes of harvesting something that inlanders aren't familiar harvesting. A bowhead whale. Today is that day.”

The hunters have been spending most of the last three weeks camped out on Harbour Island, near Naujaat.

According to updates about the hunt posted online by captain Philip Putumiraqtuq, heavy winds and rain has been preventing the crew from getting out on the water.

In a Facebook post David Simailak wrote that Putumiraqtuq reported the whale had been harpooned successfully around 9 p.m on August 15.

The boats were rocking due to heavy swells, so they made the decision to toe the whale back to shore while it was still floating and breathing so they could finish the job.

“They were successful in finishing the job,” he wrote.

Simailak said the hard part of butchering the whale was next on the list of things to do. He wrote that hunters from Naujaat were heading out to help the crew with the job on Harbour Island where they have been camping.

“Imagine the celebration there Then the celebration here when the finally come home!” wrote Simailak.

“We are all extremely proud of all of our bowhead whalers.”

This story will be updated...

Ed. note: an earlier version of this story stated the name of Baker Lake's MLA incorrectly. Nunavut News apologizes for any offence or confusion this error may have caused.