The community of Arviat, Nunavut, is located 400km north of Churchill, Manitoba, on the west coast of Hudson Bay. It is currently home to Inuit groups collectively referred to as the "Caribou Inuit" by outside researchers, in deference to their primary focus on caribou subsistence during the historic period. Inuit of this region divide themselves into a series of rather loosely associated local or "miut" groups. Elders associated with this project have named seven "Caribou Inuit" groups: the Paatlirmiut, Nuvurugmiut, Ahiarmiut, Kivihiktormiut, Qainirmiut, Hauniqtuurmiut, and Harvaqtuurmiut. Among these, the Paatlirmiut are the principal inhabitants of the Arviat area and Maguse River drainage.
Why Document Traditional Inuit Qaujimajatuqangiit?
The seeds of the Arviat Archaeology and Oral History Project were sown when archaeologists, educators, and Paatlirmiut Elders recognized a need to document the vast Inuit Qaujimajatuqangiit of the Arviat region, and make it available for their children, grandchildren, and generation's forward. With this knowledge, it is hoped that younger people may acquire the appropriate skills to live in and negotiate the contemporary world in an Inuit way.
How it All Began...
The project started in 2006, with a small group of dedicated Elders, translators, and researchers from the University of Calgary. In those days, 1:250,000 map sheets were placed underneath plastic mylar sheets. Elders would then identify important locations and write down place names on the plastic sheets using marker pens. These sheets were then scanned and put into a Geographic Information System (G.I.S). Over the years, this system has evolved to include such technologies as Google Earth and Facebook, which make the process of recording information much more rapid.
What you see here might be considered a "Wikipedia of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangiit " for the Arviat region. It is our hope that the information it contains will continue to grow, as Elders recurrently add new place names, activities, and other forms of knowledge, as well as edit and revise existing entries.
Who We Are
Many people helped to make this project possible. By far, the most important have been Donald Uluadluak, Louis Angalik, and, until his recent death, Mark Kalluak. These three dedicated individuals work for the Nunavut Department of Education where they help guide and structure curriculum and other educational initiatives. Phillip Kigusiutak, and Luke Kiniksi also assisted with the project, and are present-day residents of Arviat. All of these Elders gave generously of their time.
Mark Kalluak was Qairngnirmiut, and spent part of his youth at an interdenominational mission where he learned to read and write English; he is a published author, an accomplished researcher in his own right, and a fellow of the Order of Canada.
Donald Uluadluak, Louis Angalik, Philip Kigusiutak, and Luke Kiniksi are all Paatlirmiut who were born on the land and have lived very traditional lives as hunters and trappers. They each retain intimate knowledge of their traditional social structure and organization, in addition to holding incredibly specific knowledge about how to live, navigate, travel, trap, and subsist on the coast of Western Hudson Bay and the adjacent Barrenlands. Having trapped, travelled, and frequented different areas of the coast and inland of Hudson Bay, their knowledge together extends thousands upon thousands of kilometers.
Dr. Peter Dawson is an Associate Professor of Archaeology from the University of Calgary, and is currently Acting Executive Director of the Arctic Institute of North America.
Dr. Natasha Lyons is a consultant who has facilitated the oral history component of this project, with the aid and excellent interpretation skills of Joe Karetak and Mark Kalluak.
Joe Karetak works for the Department of Education, Government of Nunavut where he participates in the development of school curriculum for the territory