Trail Dispatch – At Home with the Pitsiulak Family



Josaphee_Gordon.jpgCoordinates: 65.17.23 N, 67.11.76 W
Distance Traveled: 0 mi/ 0 km
Temperature: -25 °F/ -31 °C
Wind: 15 MPH/ 24 KPH
Cloud Cover: Overcast with light snow

 

Cold temperatures today on Cumberland Sound

The mercury never rose far above -20 °F. We kept the Coleman stoves burning inside our cabin to provide a little more heat. Robby Pitsiulak was the first to visit us this morning at 7:45 a.m.. He had come to collect John and Theo for a dog run. The three would set nets for ring seals (natsiq) farther out on the bay. The rest of us took our time getting out of our sleeping bags. We spent the first few hours of the day indulging in such leisurely activities as reading, journaling, and knitting. Close to 10 a.m., the party crowd arrived – 15 year-old Eric and his younger cousin, 11 year-old Gordon. Speaking half in Inuktitut and half in English, the two were full of questions, jokes and stories.

annie_lypa.jpg We spent the afternoon in the Pitsiulak home with Lypa and Annie. Annie shared stories of her girlhood, growing up on the land with her family before moving to Churchill to attend school as a teenager. It was there that she learned to speak English and in the process, lost touch with much of her culture. She met Lypa in Pangnirtung and the two were married when she was twenty. It was through Lypa, Annie explained, that she came back to the land and a more traditional way of living.

Lypa, a lively character, is both young and old at the same time. At 64 he is fit and active, traveling great distances for search and rescue efforts, and working as a guide for polar bear hunts. He has lived on the land all his life, moving to this outpost in his early 30s to raise his family in the traditional way. After lunch he sat down with Will to share his observations of climate change in this land he knows so well. He recounted changes in the wind and the impact this has on sea ice, snow pack and weather. He talked about the new animals he has seen in recent years (killer whales in particular) and the negative impact they are having on native species. He described the changes in the seasons — a shorter winter with thinner sea ice and overflow on the rivers. He has witnessed these changes over a thirty year period and asked for our help in telling the world about them. He is concerned for the preservation of the Arctic environment, the preservation of his native culture and the preservation of life on earth as we know it.

Cick Here to Watch a clip from the interview 1.83 Mb

Weather permitting, we leave tomorrow morning for Pangnirtung.

Warm wishes from a cold climate,
Abby

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