Hunters in Sanikiluaq
The hunters of Sanikiluaq play a vital role in the cultural traditions of the local people, providing food for their families and for the community.
Johnassie Ippak is the first generation of hunters in the Belcher Islands to grow up and go to school in Sanikiluaq and continue the Inuit hunting tradition. Johnassie provides for his family and community from the sea and land. He originally learned from his father where to hunt in the islands, but in recent years he has had to change his travel routes and learn about new places because of the changing sea ice and weather conditions. Johnassie is a respected guide and experienced assistant to western scientific researchers. Projects to which he has contributed his know-how and experience of the Belcher Islands and wildlife include the following:
- Winter ecology studies of the Hudson Bay eider duck led by Dr. Grant Gilchrist at the Canadian Wildlife Service
- ArcticNet sea ice monitoring project led by Dr. David Barber at the University of Manitoba
- People of a Feather film project led by Dr. Joel Heath and the community of Sanikiluaq
- Ecology of Ringed Seals in Hudson Bay and Foxe Basin project led by Dr. Steve Ferguson at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Freshwater Institute
Hunter Johnassie Ippak shared his sea ice observations as part of the Sanikiluaq Sea Ice Project. Photo and video credit: Miriam Fleming. Learn more about Johnassie Ippak and watch the full-length interview.
Lucassie Takatak is a full-time community hunter in Sanikiluaq. He was born and grew up in the north Belcher Islands. Almost every day except Sunday, as the weather and his equipment permit, Lucassie goes out to bring food back from the sea and/ or land for the people of Sanikiluaq to eat. He has three freezers and a small freezer in the refrigerator in which he stores food if any is left over from his hunts. Sometimes, the community's need is so great that there is no food left for Lucassie when he comes in from a hunt. The freezers are empty several times a year: in late fall when the sea is windy, in midwinter when there are snowstorms, and early spring. Lucassie feeds the community because his older brother, on his deathbed, told him to distribute among the community food he receives from his hunts. Two generations of young hunters have grown up in Sanikiluaq learning with Lucassie.
Hunter Lucassie Takatak shared his sea ice observations as part of the Sanikiluaq Sea Ice Project. Photo and video credit: Miriam Fleming. Learn more about Lucassie Takatak and watch the full-length interview.
Peter Kattuk is a senior hunter in the Belcher Islands. He was born and grew up with his family on the Belcher Islands. Peter attended the Ft. Churchill Vocational Centre in Manitoba, and moved to the community of Sanikiluaq in about 1970 when it was established. As mayor in 1991, he invited fellow mayors from Inuit communities and chiefs from Cree communities to the first community-led workshop on Hudson Bay and James Bay. It was an historical event that led to documentation on what is happening and changing in the Hudson Bay Inland Sea on the basis of the knowledge and experience of Aboriginal Elders, hunters, trappers, and processors.
Peter is respected by many for his knowledge on sea ice, his concerns for the environment and his public service in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. As a hunter, Peter has been sharing his knowledge and observing changing conditions in the Belcher Islands environment and marine life since 1989. He likes to share what he knows with the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA) Sanikiluaq project for the benefit of the younger people who are growing up in a very different world.
Hunter Peter Kattuk shared his sea ice observations as part of the Sanikiluaq Sea Ice Project. Photo credit: Chris McNeave; video credit: Miriam Fleming. Learn more about Peter Kattuk and watch the full-length interview.