Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Being happy to be cold

I'm glad its cold out there
I haven't felt the cold air sting
this year
but it did this morning

I'm not the only one to be happy
about this cold

there seems to be ice in the fiord
that makes many people happy
not only hunters
but the christmas games on the ice
will be possible this year

and there are people who hope
hope that the winds will not pick up
that a warm spell does not strike
that the ice stays

its good to be cold
its good to have ice

lets hope it gets even colder
that the whole of cumberland sound
freezes solidly

I'm happy that its cold

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Polar Bear Story

In case you haven't heard, its been about a month since i caught my first polar bear.

Take that greenpeace! hahaha.

For many years i have been wanting to catch my first polar bear, been wanting to hunt them all my life. and that opportunity finally came on November 18, 2011, around 10 in the morning. When we first saw the bear, it was in the water and we had to herd it to land. if that makes sense? in inuktitut, i would say "unguujujavut nunamut."

let me tell you, or try to tell you how proud i was. after reading this post, you can call me Mr. Upiqqak

In my family, i am known to be proud after the first catch of an animal, not matter what it is. my father likes to tell the story of when i caught my first caribou and how i was already laughing even before i shot the caribou. so when we were bringing it to land, he told the story quickly.

people say that they start shaking before their first polar bear but i was way too excited that all i could think of was, ok, this is my day, thank god for this.

when i shot it, i just yelled woohoo. actually i yelled woohoo a bunch of time. i hugged my father a biggest hug i could think of and he was the first person i thanked. then my brother. i thanked him too. when we were skinning it, i promise you, i have never seen a more fatter polar bear than that. it was so fat. during the cut up, i was thinking of all the people i will pajuk, which in english, their is no equivalent word to, which broadly means people i will bring meat to.

i smiled that day so much, my cheeks were sore. i felt good that day. my father would say aakkuluk once in a while. he would say that he knows i am happy.

the strange thing is, the night before when my father called me, i told Annie, "I'm going to catch a polar bear tomorrow." and just 12 hours after that, my words became true. i tell you, it was a gift from God. i had been wanting to catch one for so long, that it really did feel like a gift. it was a gift, i know it. i believe it.

half hour after shooting it, i prayed standing up in the boat. even if it was to myself, i prayed and thanked everything that needed to be thanked, especially God for the opportunity.

for the next two weeks, i reminded everyone that i caught a polar bear. i reminded my family everyday. i reminded my girlfriend everyday. i joked about it everyday. the scar i have on my thumb, i would say that the polar bear swiped at me and nicked my thumb and thats how i got my scar. i joked that the hamlet of Pang has discontinued the polar bear season because my polar bear was just too awesome.

and to polar bear conservationist, i say, you don't know the first thing to what you have stopped. i was even thinking that all young people should be allowed at the age of 18, to kill their first catch because their self esteem will sky rocket. i am a new man and its all due to my first catch. i am a new man because its something i have wanted for so long and i have it now.

it feels great.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What's your Inuktitut name?

Its not everyday you have to search for your Inuktitut name. Its not everyday you call your mother to ask her what your Inuktitut name is.

Many years ago now, when i first went to Nunavut Sivuniksavut, i got asked the question what my Inuktitut name was and i didn't have an answer. Maybe it's a Pang thing, but I've never had to deal with the question what my Inuktitut name was, and i suspect no one in Pang really cares what their Inuktitut name is either. My suspicion is that we already consider ourselves Inuk too much to think of our Inuktitut name, if that makes sense.

the story starts from 2002 when i was confronted with the question. I tried my best to say that it's Tommy, but that wasn't Inuk enough, and then it was Jimmy, but that wasn't Inuktitut enough either. I was completely stumped. it was the first time i have ever been asked what my inuktitut name was and i didn't have an answer. my classmates thought that i must've been embarrassed about my name to not say it, that i was ashamed of it. This was our inuktitut class, and everyone had an inuktitut name except me, and after awhile, i really did feel bad that i didn't have one.

That same afternoon, after we had our class, i called up my mother and asked her what my inuktitut name was. She was surprised, to tell you the least. she laughed for a bit and i had to explain why i needed an inuktitut name. so i told her the story and she laughed a little bit again. and she had to think and finally said, say Tommy is your name, its Inuktitut enough. i told her that they thought that wasn't inuktitut enough and she laughed again and said, try Jimmy, and i told her again that that is still not Inuktitut enough. she laughed again. and asked what kind of classmates i have. she was as perplexed as i was about the questions, because everyone in Pang is an Inuk, no matter what their names are.

she said something along the lines of: how much more inuk do they want you to be? and i did agree with her. in Pang, an inuktitut name is whatever name you have because you are an inuk to begin with, born with it. So she said, just call yourself Nuvaqqi, which was the last name of my namesake Tommy. So in 2002, after twenty two year of being inuktitut nameless, i became nuvaqqi, as my inuk name. in a way, it felt childish.

Its not that people from Pang are ashamed to be inuk, actually, i think we are just too inuk to have an inuktitut name. We've never felt we needed them to have one ourselves and we were inuit to begin with and didn't need strengthening with a name. and its not that we are not proud of our namesakes, we just know them by heart and never feel the need to flaunt or be more inuk about it. it just never crosses our minds. if you've met people from Pang. you'll probably notice that we are loud and sometimes obnoxious and probably more proud than anyone.

next time you see me, call me Tommy or Jimmy or i could create my new hillbilly name: Tom Jim or Jim Tom.