The oldest man says: "it's not cold anymore"
Yesterday, we went through the interview with Inusiq Nashalik, the oldest man (91 years of age) in Pangnirtung. In Nunavut, elders are respected for their knowledge, and when we began the interview Inusiq said: "You've got lots of questions and I'll answer all of them". He was confident and proud of his deep understanding of climate change and associated environmental and cultural impacts.
At one point, he said "you young people think it's cold, but it's not cold anymore". He was comparing the climate of today with his memory of being a young man growing up on the land. He joked that, unlike scientists, he didn't have instruments to test climate change, but he had acquired knowledge through his rich lived experience. For example, he said that in the past when one would urinate outside in winter, it would freeze before making a hole in the snow or ice. But, now, this never happens, and that is evidence of a warming world. As a young man, they would go in search of seals on the ice, and they would get tanned faces, but now, the sun's rays penetrate deeper and are causing damage to people's skin (the picture shows Inusiq pointing to his cheeks where hunters are now being burned).
Inusiq had many teachings to share. He thanked us for being interested in this important topic and appreciated that we wanted to speak with elders. In these times of change, he stressed that many groups from the south seek to control how Inuit live, and he believed that Arctic communities should always be based on and supported by their hunting culture.