Click on 'Read More' for English Translation of Eulalie Angutimarik Testimony by Peter Irniq, May 2009 Interview with Eulalie Angutimarik Iglulik, Nunavut May 2008
Peter: Can you begin by talking about your life in Naujaat-Repusle Bay?
Eulalie: At that time, my mother and I moved to Naujaat-Repulse Bay from Iglulik, when Tungilik became my step-father. I was six years old. I grew up in Naujaat-Repulse Bay. I have never experienced anything about unhappiness. I grew up very happy with the two, where I grew up. They were extremely wonderful! I was never, never scared. I was never intimidated, always felt the comfort of being safe. How I grew up was never to worry about anything. This was, as long as my mother and father were alive. When I was a young child, living in Naujaat-Repulse Bay, it was truly wonderful.
One thing that used to hurt me was when people would ask us, “who do you and your mother pray to?” I would respond by saying, “we pray to Jesus”. I used to be told like this: “if there is Jesus, then we would see Jesus”. Those children, did not believe in Jesus, in those days. When someone said that to me, my heart used to be broken, because I believed in Jesus.
The other thing that used to hurt me was when I was bullied. They used to take me by my long hair, and swing me around, when I was a young child. There was one young child, who used to do this. I would go back to my home crying. When I got to my home, and started to complain, my mother would say, “were you told to tell?” As soon as she said that, I would shut up, as though, a lid has been put on my mouth. I used to be treated like and sometimes physically hurt, as they knew, I had no one to defend me. This person, who used to do this to me, I had forgiven this person since and this person has died since then.
Peter: This has a lifetime impact on you?
Peter: When you were a child in Naujaat-Repulse Bay, were you taught entirely in Inuktitut?
Eulalie: Yes. I was taught in every possible way in Inuktitut. I know entirely about Inuktitut ways. I completely know about Inuit culture. Those of us, who did not go to school in Chesterfield Inlet, learned about Inuktitut. This completely in Inuktitut language and Inuit culture or about the ways of the Inuit, traditions and customs. We were taught about Inuit culture, in it’s entirety.
We women, we were errand girls and baby sitters for our mothers. As woman, we helped our mothers. We would soften the animals hides by chewing on them for clothing, we would baby sat and getting some water. We had all kinds of chores. And at the same time, learning about Inuit ways.
Peter: Cleaning seal skins?
Eulalie: Yes, including that and sewing was very important aspect of our culture for us women. Peter: Including fish?
Eulalie: Yes, getting the fish ready for drying. Getting the meat ready for drying. When we lived in Ukkusiksalik(Wager Bay), we used to go and gather “qijuktaat” “heather” “kindling” for making fire for cooking, as my mother only used that for cooking.
Peter: Can you paint a picture for us about what Naujaat-Repusle Bay, used to be like in the 1950’s and 60’s? I think, you moved here around 1960 or so.
Eulalie: When I was living in Naujaat-Repusle Bay, things seemed normal. However, there are people, who I am very thankful to, including your father and mother, and also, Angutinguaq family and Kopak family.
I remember when my mother and I were first in Naujaat-Repusle Bay, we were very extremely neglected and abused. I remember this person, Peter Katuqqaq, both his parents were alive at that time, his mother and father that is. We were living downside from Qikiqtat(Harbour Islands). My father used to carve all the time, so we always had flour, oats and milk, which are the kinds of things that he used to buy, all the time, from the store. My father traveled out by dog team, often. He used to be out quite often, as long the weather was nice. However, as long as he was out, the things that he had bought for us, Katuqqaq’s mother, would take them away from us. I never liked this at all. My late older Sister, Quluaq and I would not be no longer hungry but as long as she comes to get them, then we would have absolutely nothing left. And when our father would come back from a seal hunt, and when he leaves again, she would come and get all the meat of the seal, including the entire blubber/fat from the seal.
Then one day, my step-sister Genova, told my father, as my mother and I would never say anything. She said to her father(my father), when you leave again, all our meats will be taken away. He was asking her so she told about it all. He then, instructed his daughters to come. I followed. In an iglu, it’s made in such a way that you have the main, living quarters, then there is a porch and an outdoor shelter. That was how, it used to be constructed. We lived in a iglu, made out of snow. So, when we got to the porch, he dug out a hole on the floor of the porch. Then, he placed all the meats inside that hole and covered it up, so that no one could ever find them again. All along, he was thinking that she used to finish all the meat, only in one day, as my mother never used to complain. She also used to tell me about never telling anyone. That was how much we were slaves to this lady.
I remember another time, when my dear older sister got extremely sick, at our outpost camp. Father Dedier used to come down to our camp but when she got very sick, everyone was gone but me and my dear step sister, Genova. My mother and my dear older sister were taken to Naujaat-Repulse Bay. When everyone else was gone, my step sister and I used to sleep together, as this was our way of life as part of our culture. We would wake up to complete darkness, inside the iglu, no light!
Peter: During the dead of winter?
Eulalie: During the dead of winter! It used to be extremely cold! Then, our neighbor, Peter Katuqqaq’s mother, would have plenty of light in her iglu and plenty of meat, and here we were, me and my step sister, we would have nothing to eat all day, not to mention being in complete darkness. Did you know Arnanajuk? She was the daughter of Anaruaq. When she came over, she asked: “Angugasak, are you very cold?!” Yes, I replied. After I told her yes, she dressed me up and brought me to her home. I am forever thankful to her. She would repeat this often, that she would dress me up and brought me to her home. When she entered the their iglu, she would say to her mother, “Angugasak is extremely cold, can you make her tea?” She used to give me and porridge. She would also feed me bannock, as long as there was bannock around. I am forever thankful to that person! This gives you an idea of how neglected and abused, my mother and I were. We were told that we were darn Amitturmiut(residents of that Iglulik Region). They would oppose everything that we did. This was by the parents of Katuqqaq.
Peter: I wonder why, you were allowed to be such big slaves? Eulalie: I think, because, we came from Amittuq, that there was racism against us. That was how she used to refer to us as stupid Amitturmiut.
Peter: Did it improve later on, did it get better?
Eulalie: Yes. When we were able to do things on our own, then it was no longer like that.
Do you remember our grandmother named Tiaksaq? I also used to help that old lady, as Kattuaq’s mother used to mistreat her a lot. They had an iglu. She used to have her own little “hole” out here by the iglu. There was just room enough for herself. That was how, her daughter-in-law used to keep her in her own little shelter. She used to be in complete darkness, plus she was blind. I used to feel sorry for very much. I used to feel a great deal of compassion towards her. Not only she was blind but because she was in the cold shelter, her hair used to have frost! She used to be in this fashion(makes a gesture), she had a shelter, just room enough for her, she had no qulliq(Inuit Oil Lamp). She had no light, that was how her daughter-in-law, treated her. My mother used to tell me to go and see her mother-in-law. When I saw her(Taksaq), she would cough and threw out a lot of blood, all over. When she appeared to have something in her throat, I would say to her, “my dear new grandmother, open your mouth”, and when she would open her mouth, I would reach inside her mouth into her throat, I would take out a large blood clot from her throat. That was how much slaves we were, my mother, my grandmother and me, that was how we were mistreated by Katuaaq’s mother. Those are the ones, I remember in a very big way.
Peter: I myself remember Tiaksaq.
Peter: We used to their place when we would come to Naujaat from Nattiligaarjuk(Committee Bay) for Christmas activities. You lived in Ukkusiksalik(Wager Bay). Can you talk a little about that part?
Eulalie: The fact of the matter was that the priests were extreme big bosses, apparently, it was Father Dedier, who told us to move to Wager Bay, so we moved to Wager Bay. I don’t quite remember when we were moving to Wager but remembered extremely well, when we were living there.
When we were living in Wager Bay, we at one time lived with the family of Itturiligaq, as our neighbors. We also lived with Amarualik family. There was also Tavuq family. And Sanniqtaq family. Those were the people, we lived with for a time. There were all kinds of animals, such as caribou, wolves, rabbits and in the fall time, there were lots of siksiks(squirils). There were also lots of black berries, blue berries, cranberries and other berries. There were also lots of arpiit(arctic raspberries). It was like, we were never hungry. In the fall time, we used to have a lot of caribou fat.
When we were no longer living with Sanniqtaqs and Tavuqs, and only liviving with Itturiligaq and Amarualik families. Then, there was no longer any animals around. Then, just below us, there was a lake, that normally has lots of fish, but no longer has any fish. And during the winter time, there a great abundance of caribou, they were no longer around to be seen. In the winter time, when there was long dark days, there used to be lots of wolves, there were also no longer any wolves around. Our dogs all died off from lack of food and we ourselves were very hungry, as we had no more food. We became extremely hungry. We no longer had any light in our iglu. In the day time, when it became 3 o’clock, we would go to bed as there was no more light in the qulliq(Inuit Oil Lamp). There was no more fat to light it. The only thing we had left was water to drink. And we had no more dogs.
One day, I noticed our father going out, while it was still completely dark. He was gone for a long time, in fact for entire day, then he finally came in the next day, in the middle of the night, walking still. He came home with a small peace of meat and fat oil. Apparently, down towards the sea at a place called Nuvuk&it, there was a flow-edge, far away from where we were. Apprently, there were people down there, who were also had shortage of food but gave my father a little bit of meat and fat, to take home. I forget how many times he would walk down there to get some more.
I again remembered him going or leaving the iglu, while it was still very dark. When it was an evening time, or maybe it was a day time, when we would go to bed, as we had nothing to light. When our father came back it was very dark. When he came in, he lit his lighter, and was using it for a light to see on the ground/floor. Then, he said to me, stay awake, as you will have a small piece to eat. I became very happy, thinking that he had caught a nice animal. My goodnss! When I started chewing, it was a terrible taste! It was something that was extremely horrible tasting. I could not swallow it, even though, I had not eaten for many days. When I told him, I could not swallow it, he said, since you have not eaten for a long time, try to swallow it, otherwise your stomach, might get stuck to each other. He gave me some water and then I was really struggling to swallow it, finally, I swallowed it like that. Apparently, he found some caribou guts that have been sitting since a year ago, brought it home, so that my dear little sister Theresie and I could have something to eat. Wow! How, I felt a great compassion!! I often think about that. Because, he has a lot of love for us, he brought home something that was left over from last year. I think about that occasionally, as I dearly loved our late father.
There was another time that I remember him leaving early in the morning, when it was still dark. When he got back, he was driving a dog team. It seemed as though, all those dogs were scary, this was because, we had had no dogs at all for quite sometime. Apprently, since Sanniqtaqs were catching some seals, occasionally, he was telling us to move down to Nuvuk&it. We quickly got dressed and while there was still light, we decided to leave. I was all dressed in caribou clothing. I had an inner coat, then an outside coat, then mitts, inner pants and outer pants, including caribou socks and caribou mukluks. I was complete with my clothing. When I went outside, and then fell forward, I could not get up again, any longer. This was probably because, I was so hungry and detioriorated, perhaps. I was also very chilled. If you are very hungry, and have not eaten for a long time, and yet, when you are fully dressed in warm caribou clothing, as long as you are hungry, you will no longer have any energy. When I was like that for a time, my mother helped me to get up, put me on the qamutiik(sleigh), then we were on our way down over there. We arrived to Nuvuk&it, when it became night time. Wow, when we got inside the iglu of Tavuq family, it was bright and it was warm! Perhaps, it only felt warm because we had been in a cold iglu, for such a long period of time.
We were inside the iglu for a long time, with no insulation and no light and we endured this for such a long period of time. We used to wake up in that iglu, when it became daylight and there used to be a lot of snow on the bed, snow falling down from the frost from the ceiling. And the reason why it was falling was because, it was in the cold all the time. Their iglu seemed very warm and had one qulliq(Inuit Oil Lamp) lit, the entire iglu. AS their iglu was had a rather limited space, my family settled on the floor of the iglu, to sleep. We found their iglu, extremely hot!
We were there for a time and then, the people left us again, with no dogs, what-so-ever. We were given two dogs, one male and one female and the neighbors departed from our out post. Our father did not have a qamutiik(sleigh) any longer. Where we were very hungry at Piqsimaniq, he used up all the wood from his qamutiik, trying to boil water, so that we could have something to drink. They were the only pieces of wood to make fire. That was our life style at that point, however, my late brother Leo, used to shovel through the snow, to the ground, and collected heather that way. That was so that we could boil water.
When it was spring time, probably during the month of June, our neighbors the Tavuq, Sanniqtaqs, and Inuksatuajjuk’s left and again, we became the only ones again, at our out post. When we became the only ones again, where we were living was an island, where Nuvuk&it was situated. Up there on the other side, was the mainland. There are no seals in Ukkusiksalik(Wager Bay). As he no longer had any qamutiik, he used to go out seal hunting, with his dog on a leash. By this time, as it was spring time, it was warm. My little sister and I used to pick up berries and ate that way. We used to pick them up and when the land was melted, we used to pick, last year’s berries. This was when the snow had melted. Down there at small islands, there used to be a lot of birds. Our brother Leo said and we had a small skiff. He said, he was going to go see down there at small islands, and the weather was very warm, as the ice had just broken away. He came back in a short time and said, there were lots of eggs down there.
My mother had a square aluminum washing basin, with handles on each side. He took the basin and came back short time later, and the basin was full of eggs. How wonderful! We were going to eat. We ate nothing but eggs during that spring.
I guess, we had to go to the mainland at that time. My father, took my mother, and my younger sister Theresie, and including our beddings, and put them on them into the small skiff, and brought them over to the land. My brother Leo and I were left behind. We were left behind, only for a short time as the land was very close by. When our father came back, he loaded the small skiff and then, he brought my brother Leo and I over to the mainland. As we did not have a modern stove at that time, as no one came to see us in the summer time, and we lived life much like our ancesters did, very traditional. My mother used to cook or boil meat by using only the heather for fire. We put up our tent for the night and then our father, collected a few of my mother’s belongings, and took them out further, towards, where we were going to be next. The next day, the three of them went into the small skiff and they traveled out while Leo and I were beginning our walk and we took two dogs with us. After we had walked for sometime and by evening, our relatives, decided to set up a tent for the night. We repeated this for the entire month of July and maybe til August, until we finally got to our destination, Piqsimaniq(Pisimaniq is a traditional name of outpost camp, used by Inuit for thousands of years, as it is really good place for fishing for Arctic Char).
At that time, when we were still walking, it became very rainy. There was really big rain, reakkt pouring, and really thundering at the same time. And the lightning would come, very close to us! Wager Bay, normally has very huge thunder. It seems like, when there is a big thunder, the thunder sounds as though, it lands on the rocks and the land would begin to shake continuously. As the rain was just pouring, I started to get very wet. So, we both stop and Leo said to me, let me cover you with caribou skin, otherwise, you are going to get too wet. As a result of the big rain, we lost our relatives. Relatives meaning, my mother and her company. Then, it became quite dark. I remember, we started to climb a hill. It was quite windy at that point, then we came upon a very protected area. Suddenly, we came upon this shelter, and there was no more wind. Each time we talked, the voices were echoeing. He took out his lighter and we found out, we came upon a huge cave. Even though, it was very dark, we came this huge cave, very luckily. There was just enough room for us to sleep in. It also had what looked like a doorway. We slept at the cave, waiting for the rain to stop. Our dogs were just outside of the cave. All this time, we never had anything to eat, as we never saw a caribou. We knew, our relatives were eating plenty of eggs. We knew this, for sure. I remember, I had a hard time going to sleep, as I was wondering about my mother and my dear little sister. I thought for sure, we were lost and I kept crying in the middle of the night, while trying to sleep. I was also hearing this big thunder, which was making all kinds of noises, right over where we were. As soon as the thunder was over, I immediately went to sleep.
My brother woke me up and said, down there, there was something smoking. He said, our mother and everyone else, must be down there. I woke up being very thirsty. I had a drink right away from near the cave. We started walking towards them immediately. They told us, as soon as it started to rain, they set up the tent. My mother had started to burn heather for us to make sure that we see them. Apparently, we walked passed their tent, quite the distance. When I come to think about arriving at that big cave and we came upon it when it was very dark, I sometimes think that it was God’s will, that made us walk right into it. When Leo lit his lighter, there it was, big cave, and no more wind. That was how, I thought of it.
After we had been there, we would then start our journey again, and Leo and I would walk all the time every day. Then, we finally arrived to our destination, that was when the fish were swimming back up stream. We left in July. When my mother and I started to set up our tent, our father, who was looking at the lake, he exclaimed: “Iqalualuit!” “Lots of fish!” Here it was, during the previous winter, there was absolutely no fish. He would jig for fish all the time but there was absolutely no fish. As we did not have a real solid food, along the way, as we did not see any caribou, as soon as he said, “lots of fish”, my mother and I started running over. The lake was close by, and it’s river was very short. We started running over. As soon as he put out his net, it was full of fish, right away. Even though, I was a young child at that time, I thought to myself then, “my, it does have fish”, that was what I thought. When we got to Piqsimaniq, it went back to it’s traditional ways, it had lots of fish, and it had lots of caribou. All the animals that used to be around, were on sight again. We found out later that through his shamanistic powers, Tavuq, made all the animals to come back to the area. When he was leaving the area here, he made sure that it was like that.
Peter: It was well-known that he was a very strong shaman.
Peter: About that big cave, one would think at that time, that you still have lots of life to live?
Eulalie: Yes. Yes.
Peter: After you had been in Wager Bay, did you move to Naujaat-Repulse Bay, to live.
Eulalie: We spent another winter there. Then, I woke up again and it was in the summer time. It was still a summer time, then I noticed this big Whiteman! And I had never seen a Qablunaaq, other than a priest. When I saw this big Whiteman, my gosh, it was scary! It truly was a scary experience. He was not a priest but a Whiteman! Apparently, when my brother was out walking, looking for caribou, he noticed, whole bunch of tents, so he walked over. Apparently, these people, were living close by were minging company people, looking for minerals. The camp was situated along the Piqsimaniq region. I guess, Leo understood a bit of English at that time, he walked with him and came to our camp.
At that time, he gave me something that was round, and had a little caribou carved on it. It was apparently a 25 cents. I didn’t know what it was at all. I had it as a toy for a long, long time. I didn’t know, if it was money or not. We were true Inuit!
At that time, my brother went to see them again. We had lots of caribou, lots of dried fish, lots of dried meat and lots of caribou fat, which were very available around. There were also, lots of dried insight guts from the caribou. There were also lots of “kiksautit” “layer of fat covering first stomach or paunch of caribou.”
When he went back out to the mining camp, he came back carrying on his back, with lots of Whiteman’s food, lots of cans. How wonderful, it was, when my younger sister, were eating them! It was fun eating other than Inuksiut(Inuit) food. My younger sister also became extremely happy. That was the experience, that was like that.
Peter: There was sugar too?
Eulalie: Yes. When he went back over there, he was told that they would be leaving sometime soon, as it was a fall time, at this point. They told him, all these foods, that were going to be left behind, they said, will be covered, and on the cover, the name Mark Tungilik, will be on it. They will become our properties. Wow, it was happiness! At this time, we used to see an airplane, flying nearby. When it was flying, it would disappear in the horizon, up towards the land. It was perhaps, the mining company people, would look for minerals but would be going back to their camp. Perhaps, that was when, we used to see the airplanes.
When the snow had covered the ground and when we were able to travel on the snow by dog team, the two teams, left to go to the former mining camp. They came back with all kinds of little boxes. They were the Whiteman’s food. Throughout that year, we were not about to go hungry this time. There was lots of caribou, lots of fish, lots of dried fish and caribou and fresh fish too. The wolves were also coming near our camp. When we were very hungry for food at that time, we had a wolf to eat. We had a wolf to eat, while we were still living with Itturiligaq family. They were using heather to cook the wolf. We had boiled wolf meat at that time, as they instructed us to eat. As we were probably very hungry and wanted to eat, I thought, it almost tasted like a caribou. So, I ate a wolf at that time.
Peter: At that time, Inuit did not eat, a wolf? Eulalie: Yes. They did not eat wolf meat, as they did not like it and did not crave for it. They went and got some heather, and boiled the meat of the wolf in a pot, in the porch of the iglu. We got together and ate it. It was apparently going to be our last meal. We were apparently not going to have another meal, for the time, that we were going to get very hungry. Only when we moved to Nuvuk&it, and when used to catch occasional seal, then we used to have some healthy food.
Peter: You had light in your iglu, at this point too?
Eulalie: Yes, we had light on our qulliq. I remember my mother was sewing all the time. She was sewing all our caribou clothes, always, always. Even though, I was young child, I remember chewing caribou leg skin, softening them and scraping them, at the same time. It was apparently when we would be moving to Naujaat-Repulse Bay.
When it became a beautiful spring, probably in April, we prepared and left. At that point, we now had dog team, as well. We had five dogs. We had a huge load. We had so much load on the qamutiik(sleigh) that, the load was my same height. As I could not climb on top of the loaded qamutiik, I would be lifted and sat down on top of the load. Here, Naujaat-Repulse Bay, was very far away. When we traveled to Naujaat-Repulse Bay, we only had five dogs. Everyone was extremely energetic, even though, we had lots of load of meat. We had lots of caribou and fish. At that time, there was only a few of us, including my mother and father, my younger sister, my brother and Marie Pakak was still a little child. We were five. When we were traveling along to Naujaat-Repulse Bay from Wager Bay, I remember, it was fun, just really full of fun!
I don’t quite remember the time we arrived to Naujaat-Repulse Bay. My mind was blank for a certain period of time, then I remember when we went to one of the places, whether it was Talut, Aviluarsuk or Niaqunguut(North Pole River – 12 miles southwest of Naujaat), fishing places where we were going to wait for the ice to break up. So, we went outside of Naujaat to go and wait for the ice to break up, this was a normal practice for the Inuit, and live at various places, in the spring time.
So, we were out there, living. There was only a few of us now, as my brother had married and living in Naujaat with Bernadette Evaluarjuk Saumik, now living in Rankin Inlet. They had a little child, a little boy, earlier. He died later. They arrived to our camp. Then my brother Leo said to us, we are going out on the inland to hunt caribou, they came to get some food for rations, here they have a mother-in-law in Repulse Bay. His mother-in-law was the mother Katuqqaq. They said, they came to get some food and some boot material for their seal skin boots. Here he was, he had a mother-in-law. They slept for a night and then prepared some rations, such as flour, porridge, sugar, cigarette tobacco, my mother also gave them a bearded seal skin, and then they were gone. And then, from that time, he was not going to come back. That was Leo, my brother.
When they left, we had no idea of what was going to happen to them. As our father was always going out hunting seals, that were basking on the ice, only the three of us would be left, my mother, my dear little sister, Theresie and myself. My father was out seal hunting.
The day was very clear and there was only one cloud in the sky. My mother had been looking at it and she commented: “look at that little one”. I asked her, “what?” She then said, “it’s the mother Jesus, it’s in the cloud”. I tried to see it for myself, I could not see it. She said, it was Mary. It was Mary, mother of Jesus, she said. She said, she was had tears, and her hands were in this fashion(makes a gesture) and her brightness was connected to the ground. She was also crying. When my mother started to cry, I started to cry with her. She saw her, she was crying and she had tears. She was looking at it all the time but when I tried to look for it, I could not see it. She then said, “it has disappeared”. She said, there was no more, it disappeared. She said, “I am wondering why, I am allowed to see this”.
When the ice broke up and there was no more ice in the bay, we went back to Naujaat-Repulse Bay. Did you remember Kailitaaq? He and his wife went out inland also, to hunt for caribou.
There was a supply ship that came in to Naujaat. During the entire month that summer, there was both rain and snow, falling down, all the time. That ship was anchored down there, as there was lots of ice in the bay, at that point. As a result of the ice, it could not get closer(to the community to unload). When Kailitaaq arrived home, he came over for a visit and said, as there was no caribou, they had to come back to the coast. Leo(and Bernadette), he said, was apparently traveling further inland, who told him, he was going to come back only when he got caribou. There was a ship at that point, when the land was beginning to freeze. So Kailitaaq and his wife came back, as a result of now caribou on the inland. My mother and I were hoping for Leo and Bernadette, to come back.
Each morning when I would wake up, I would get the primus stove going, and make bannock. Bannock was only our food, as children, in those days. In those days, we only had bannock and porridge. There were three of my younger siblings, Theresie, Marie Pakak and Marius. Before they got up, I would make bannock, as it was my responsibility to make bannock, as the oldest one. While I was making the bannock, I imagined as though someone was saying to me, “my cousin, come, I can no longer do anything”. The voice I thought, I heard, seemed to have say that. I said to my mother, I think, our daughter-in-law Evaluarjuk, would like you to come. My mother would immediately scold me, even though, she was not a scary person, when she was scolding.
Because, you are hoping and expecting(Leo and Bernadette), you are just imagining things, that was what she said. I believe her and forgot about the situation and continued to make bannock. Again, I seemed to hear same voice, asking to be helped. I told my mother about it again but she repeated the same response. Again, the third time, it happened again, and again, I told my mother about it. “Mother, Evaluarjuk, wants you to come, can you not hear her?!” She said yes, and repeated that, you are only imagining and hearing things, you are really expecting them. Again, I heard the same voice the fourth time. This time, I did not say anything and shut off the primus stove. After I shut it off, I went out and decided to go up to the top of the hills, to look. When I got up there, I started to look around and noticed something that was very small but moving. I could see it moving. When I was looking at it, it would disappear and then become visible again. I thought of going back to our tent for a minute but stopped and decided to look up there, further. Apparently, I was truly hearing voice earlier, that was very far away.
My goodness! When I was walking towards it, I noticed it was a person. Immediately I thought to myself, is this our daughter-in-law or is it my brother. I was running swiftly towards the person. My goodness, I saw something that I did not expected to see! When she became closer, I guess when she noticed a person in me, she fell to the ground. When she fell to the ground, I ran towards her swiftly. When I got to her, it was like, she was dying. She was all blue, and there was no warmth in her body. I started to investigate her. I noticed her seal skin boots, were all worn out, to the point where, you could see the flesh of her feet.
Peter: That was during the very late fall time?
Eulalie: Yes. My gosh! I did not know what to do next at that point but thought, my mother was a very religious person, always praying in the morning and during the entire day. Whenever, we were going to have a meal, she would pray. As I have been trained to pray by my mother, I decided to pray for help. As she did not appear to have any breath, I started to listen to her. She would breathe, after a long period of silence.
I had a very thick sweater. I took it off me and decided to find out on her body, if there is any spot that was warm. When I touched her under her arms, that was the only spot, that was warm. Her coat was completely wet, as though, she had fallen in the water. It apparently got very wet, from the continous rain and snow. As a result of being wet, she was almost dying of exposure. I decided to run as fast as I could to go back to the community. I was trying so hard to run for help, it seemed as though, I was very slow running, even though, I was running with all my might. As soon as our tent became visible, I yelled, “mother!” She didn’t hear me at first and when she heard me, her head showed up, on this side of the tent. I was yelling and screaming at her and said, “look Evaluarjuk is no longer able!” She replied and said, “where is she?”
She became very panicky at that point. Then, I told her. The thing was, I don’t never remember ever having to scold or talk back to my mother. Then, I scolded my mother, by saying to her. “Mother, darn it, in future, believe me, when I tell you something!” That was what I said to her. I continued: “when I tell you something, you never believe me!” “Our daughter-in-law is no longer able”. “She is up there, and no longer able”. “When she fell to the ground, she was not able to get up again”. After asking me questions about her, and I told her about it, she then asked me to go and tell Father Dedier. So, I went over to Father Dedier to tell him about what has happened. She told me to go and tell your father, I went to tell him about it. She told me to go and tell Mapsalaaq, so I also went to tell him about it. Those were the ones, I told, but there might have been somebody else. I was running swiftly to go to everyone place and when all this was done, Father Dedier took a stretcher and with my knowledge as to where she was, people started to walk up to get her. In those days, we had no transportation for anything like this. I ran up there ahead of them, and as the youngest person, I was the fastest runner. I went up to her, ahead of everyone else. It seemed, they were very slow in coming. And Bernadette, would breathe, once in a long time. And when they finally arrived, they put her on the stretcher and carried her, down back to the community. She went to Father Dedier’s house and put her, on his bed.
She started sleep and seemed to have slept the entire night. Then the next day, it was by the end of the day, then started from her, the blue, started to disappear, up this way. She was probably, coming back to life. Her blood probably started to spread itself back to the body. When she got up, she was looking around and asked, “where am I?” “Where am I?”, she asked. I went over to her and told her, “you are now in Naujaat”. Then, she was looking at me and asked, “are you Angugasak?” I said to her, yes, I am. Then, she turned to look at my mother, and asked: “are you my cousin?” She told her, yes. Then, she screamed very loudly and said: “I had to leave my husband!” She said, he was still alive when she left him. She said, he was no longer able. When she was wide awake, she was able to tell the story.
She said, when they were out in the inland, and when others were going back home, she said, her husband did not wanted to come home, until he got a caribou. Apparently, his mother-in-law, the mother of Katuqqaq kept telling him, here he is a man, and was not worth the man he was, that he was not even able to catch anything. He was apparently scared and ashamed of that and said, only when he got a caribou, he would be coming back home. He finally told his wife about this. In those days, it was extremely hard to get animals! Just by hearing what used to happened, (the way he was treated by the mother-in-law) I wanted to defend him very much and stick up for him, all this time.
When they could not catch any caribou, their dogs, were howling all over the place, ran away and they all got lost. So, all the needles, their material for seal skin boots, their cooking utensils, their beddings, were all lost, except for the blanket, that my brother was carrying. He was also carrying his rifle. He was also carrying two skins of caribou, used for bedding. All the other things, such as kettle for making tea, cooking pot, were all lost and they got hungry, as they could not see any caribou. For three days, they were looking for them.
And because, he was beginning to give up, as he was often falling down, when he was no longer able to walk, he said to his wife, “I have become incapable, when we were first starting our journey(in the summer), if you remember where we came from, try to recognize it, and try to go back home(to Naujaat)”. She did not wanted to go to back home and wanted to become incapable and stay with her husband. He kept insisting that she do this, and then, she apparently started to walk. Apparently, he was no longer able to breathe, at a later on. After she told the entire story, the ones that I went to see for help earlier, including your father, Angutinguaq, Mapsalaaq, and Father Dedier, there were four of them. They left there to where he was by boat. They came home the next day and there was no body. They did not come home with the body. To this day, I think of him as though, he is alive. It seems that he is alive on the land. I wanted to get something that belonged to him, even though, however small it was. When Dominique and I were traveling from Naujaat and were out and ran out of gas, and were lost due to the big fog, we noticed there was a mountain, up from us and the fog was lifting at that point. There was something that was standing up on top of the mountain. I said at that time, “I wonder, if that was a place to look for caribou through telescope, by people, who moved inland to hunt caribou”. I did not say it directly but I thought to myself, I wonder if that was something that Leo had put up. I wanted to walk around to see if I could find something that belong to him, something that he owned, however, small it was. To have a relative missing like this, you are forever expecting them. You have a very high expectations of them.
Peter: It seemed as though, they would eventually appear?
Eulalie: Yes, that is always in your mind. We never even saw his grave. If my mother was like that, perhaps, she was expecting him to arrive, one day, too. I am no longer like that finally, perhaps, it was after I finally talked about it. My eyes used to get very tired each fall time and when there was a ship that came in. It was apparently because, I was looking all the time. I noticed myself doing that, and each time, I would get to the higher mountains, I would look and look, apparently. All those people, whose relatives never come back, probably, they look all the time. Like us.
Peter: I think, that happened in 1956?
Eulalie: Yes. It was in 1956.
Peter: I remember it.
Eulalie: Yes. That was what it was.
Peter: That was very difficult to accept. Eulalie: Yes, it was very difficult!
Peter: Would you like to rest a bit?
Eulalie: Yes, let’s.
Eulalie: At that time, when they arrived, they said, they left the body of my late brother, on the other side of the bay. When the residents of Naujaat-Repulse Bay, went to see the boat to meet them, he was not there. As they had no transporation at that point to bring him down to the beach, that far away, they could not bring him. So, they apparently buried him over there. When we the residents of Naujaat went down to see him, but he was not there.
My mother and I were left down on the beach. Now, there was only the two of us. Our father was not there. When my mother and I were left alone on the beach at this point, she was crying. I kept telling her, “let go to our home” but I could no longer persuade her to go. I had to grab her arm then pulled her arm, and practically drag to our home. There was absolutely no one to help.
This was when there was lots of snow, and it was already a winter, one of their stupid dog came, very fat! Here he was, lost quite a long time ago and could have starved to death, by now. When the dog arrived, it was very fat.
There was also a time, when a little ptarmigan was flying overhead, when my brother Leo, was no longer able. Even though, he was no longer able, he took a gun, and was shooting it, as he wanted his wife to eat. Apparently, he can still move his arms, at this point. Apparently, the little ptarmigan, would land, very near to them. As he was shooting at it, and then shot it. They noticed the insights were all out of the it’s body and yet, it was still flying around. It was making human-life noises. When it finally died, he told his wife, it doesn’t appear to be a real ptarmigan, and instructed her, not to eat it, even though, she was very hungry. Apparently, she never got to eat it. It was apparently a curse from a shaman. My mother and I thought, that was what it was.
Peter: Perhaps, it was.
Eulalie: Yes, I think so. Even so, your late brother-in-law Sangikti, at the time when my mother became very sick and was sent to Winnipeg, and many of our family members were down to see her, your brother-in-law and I were the only two left at this point. He came over to me and said, there is something that he would like to get out of his chest. I immediately thought, whether I was really bad or said something terrible to this man Sangikti. Go ahead, I said. He said, you and your mother, were too Christian. He said, he already had a frank discussion with my mother. `I said to him, “how?” He said, when my older sibling became very sick at that time, he wanted to heal him, with his shamanistic healing. He said, my mother’s and my Christian believes, were too strong, that he was hopeless. As I wanted very much to have an older sibling, I responded to him by saying, “why did you not heal him?” He would have lived. He then talked about his powers as angakkuq(shaman), and said, he left all that. He said, he was now believing in God. That was how, he responded to me. I thanked him very much! Peter: As a young person in Naujaat-Repulse Bay, you went through a very difficult time?
Eulalie: Yes. I went through a very difficult time, in some. Yes, I went through a very difficult period of my life.
Then, when I was 16 years old, my mother told me, “you are going to be moving to Iglulik”. I told her, “no, I am not going to Iglulik.” Every day, she would tell me that I was going to Iglulik. I would tell her by saying, I am not going to Iglulik. Then she said, “your father, wants you to be in Iglulik, while he is still alive”. Before he dies, he wants you to be in Iglulik. I told her, “I don’t have a father in Iglulik”. “You have a father”. I said, “No, I don’t have a father”. Every day, she would tell me like that. I kept telling her, I am not going to go to Iglulik.
Then she said one day, on August 15, when the children were being taken to a Residential School in Chesterfield Inlet, I will be on that flight, when the plane comes in from Chesterfield Inlet, on it’s way to Iglulik. She said, my father wants me to go up and my mother was up there. “No, I don’t have a mother or father in Iglulik!” I told her! “You have a father and you have a mother.” I repeated my statement that I don’t have a father or a mother down there. “You are my mother!” I was always absolutely certain that, I came from her. All this time, I thought for sure, she was my biological mother. She never said to me, “you have a mother there, and you are my adopted daughter”, she never told me this.
Then again, when she said, on August 15, you will be moving to Iglulik. She then said, now that her father is very old man, she has to listen to him. At that time, we were always obedient of our mothers and fathers. Apparently, this Utak, my biological father, was the father of my mother. My mother was apparently adopted by him. When he was married to someone else, other than my own biological mother, my biological father was married to Qattuurainnuk, he adopted my mother. I told her then, “let him be your father, he is not my father”. My father is buried in Iglulik, I told her. She asked, “who?” “Do you not know?” I asked her. She said yes. That man Qingaq, who was my father, Louis Tapardjuk’s namesake, was someone, who I truly thought, was my real father. Apparently, he was my adoptive father. I was very certain, he was my father. Then she asked me, “and you think, he is your father?” I said, “yes, he is my father”. I called him “my son-in-law” as I was named after one of my mother’s, Angugaatiaq’s twins Qanguq. So, he was my son-in-law. My son-in-law, who was my father is buried in Iglulik, that is what I told her. Oh, really, she said, and do you think, he was your father? I replied, yes, he was my father. I don’t know your stupid father, she replied. I don’t even know your father, as I have never seen him before.
At that time, prior to going to Naujaat-Repulse Bay, she made me put on a nice little seal skin coat and seal skin boots. They were brand new. She also made me put on seal skin mitts. She said, you are you are unhappy again, as you are always talking about your father….go outside and play. I guess, I was always talking about a father issue, when I was a very young child. I remember this very clearly. After she put on new clothes for me, I started to go outside. Then, I was told: “this is your father”. Then, this truly seemed to hurt my heart, as I was thinking that, I thought for sure, my “son-in-law” my father had died. As a very young child, I was thinking to myself, “did my “son-in-law” became alive again? I thought for sure, he became alive again, especially after seeing him, having died. Then I turned around this way, “this person was not my father”. Then I started to cry. Then, my memory went blank. Then, it was like that, but when I remember that incident, my heart would become broken.
Apparently on August 15, the airplane came in the morning and was told, I was going to go to Iglulik from Repulse Bay. . I did not wanted to go. I am going to be feeling very strange with the people of Iglulik. My sister, Ullatitaq, the late Ullatitaq, came over, she grabbed me and practically threw me out, as I really did not wanted to go out. The one-engine airplane had beached down to the shore. I would stop often, after walking for a little bit, then my sister Ullatitaq, would push me, and bringing me down towards the airplane. Then, I did not wanted to go into the plane but that darn priest named Father Cochard, grabbed me suddenly and put into the plane! Wow, my mind and my heart, really got broken, in a very big way! I truly was heart broken! Here, I had to leave my little younger sisters including, Marie Pakak and Therese, the sisters, every where I went, I would always go with them. I was made to leave them behind. Here was my little younger brother, Marius, who used to pee and shit on me, as a little child, and someone I baby sat, all his young life, here again, I was leaving him, also. My mother would look after him in the middle of the night. Right after he has milk from his mother, then he would come to me again.
Then we left from here. I was crying inside but my cry would not come out. This was because I was extremely scared! Then, we arrived to Iglulik. I did not wanted to step off the plane. Never mind, if I was taken anywhere, be lost somewhere. It didn’t matter to me! That was what I was thinking. I did not at all know my biological father and my biological mother. The only person who was on my mind at that point, was my father Qingaq. I was thinking, if he was alive, then I would have a place to stay in Iglulik. That was how I was thinking. I did not wanted to step off the plane, never mind, be lost! And be no more! Then, Father Cochard got took me by hand, and by force, he put me on the ground, off the plane. I was facing the beach. It felt as though, the bottom of my feet, were completely glued to the ground. I had absolutely no place to go to. I had absolutely, no place to go to!
Peter: You were not met by anyone?
Eulalie: Yes, there were people, who came to meet me. I was absolutely lost and did not know anyone at all. Then, someone took my arm and told: “you are not a stranger, let’s go to our home”. I looked at him, he was an adult. I did not know him at all, so I let go of my arm and did not pay attention to him. Then, a bit later on, he did the same thing, three times, I let my arm go from him. She kept telling me, “let’s go to our home”. She did not matter to me. I knew at this point that I had come to Iglulik but I did not at all know my biological mother and father. Then, my arm was grabbed, pulled and they were making me walk. When he did that to me, I asked, “where in the world are you bringing me to?” “To your mother’s”. I replied to him: “I have no mother around here. I left my mother in Naujaat-Repulse Bay”. This person responded by saying, “no, you have a mother”. Then she told me, “you are my aunt”. I then remembered, when my mother and I were living here, I had a niece named Qattalik. I thought about this at that moment, as this person, was my similar in age. Apparently, this person was Bernadette Utak(who lives in Naujaat-Repulse Bay today – 2008). She was holding my hand, as she was walking with me, and was extremely good to me. I am forever thankful to that person. When she identified herself as that person, at that time, then, I became a bit more at ease. At least, I met someone, who I knew.
Then, we arrived to where their tent was, and were outside of it at that point. “Let’s go inside”, she said. “No”, I replied. This was because, I was no longer aware at all. Then, she insisted that I go inside and told me, “you have no other place to go to”. You will be here, she said. She said, “this is your home”. Then, we got inside. I was standing just inside the doorway of the tent. I felt at this point, that the bottom of my feet, were stuck to the ground. They weren’t stuck but felt like, they were glued to the floor. I also did not know what to do next. I was feeling extremely foreign and strange. And the one who was sitting on the bed was apparently, a person, who met me at the plane, and she was also my biological mother. As I did not know anything about any of this, I did not wanted to listen to her. I did not think, she was my mother at all, period!
As though, my feet were stuck to the ground, then there was an old man, who was sitting next to the person, who came to meet me at the plane. He opened his arms like this and said, “let’s go, come”. As I could not longer move, and I could not go to him, I just did not make a move from my spot. I was also thinking of the ones, I left behind in Naujaat. I was thinking about my younger siblings, who I left behind in Naujaat. Then, the lady said to me, “go to him, you are not going to anywhere else, other than us”. My cry was in here, in my throat, but I could not actually cry, loudly.
The way the bed was set was on the floor of a tent. So, I stood in front of him. He was sitting down, and he was old. He told me to sit on his lap, keeping in my, I was very fat at that time. I did not pay any attention to him, as I could not bring myself to say anything. I was only looking at him. I thought to myself, “why would he want me to come, to go here, to him?” I had heard that he was my biological father. When I sat down on his lap, as I was very fat, I tried to act light, as much as possible. He said, “don’t try to be light”. I was very big and fat, and yet, he was holding me, as though, I was a little child. He was holding me like a little child, like this, he put his arms around me and he started to cry. He also started to pray. He was praying for me. He wanted me to have someone to find peace, for me. He was praying. Then, he was finished praying. But then, I could not move, I was feeling extremely strange and very, very scared! At that time, I did not care to go anywhere and die, as I was so scared! When you are no longer a little child, and return to your biological parents, it is extremely scary! It would have been more helpful, if my mother in Naujaat-Repulse Bay, had told me prior, that “you have a mother and father in Iglulik”. If she had prepared me previously, then I would not have been the way I was, I figured, it would have been like that.
Peter: Then, you would have been more prepared?
Eulalie: Yes. I would have been more prepared. After I had settled here in Iglulik and went back to Naujaat-Repulse Bay, my mother there used to say to me, “as you will have good relations with your relatives in Iglulik, make sure to work towards, of having good relations, with them. Make sure, to work towards having good relations, with your siblings”. Finally at the age of 16, I saw my siblings for the first time, I am very distant from them. It is now much better today, than it used to be. I can now call them, “my older sister” “my brother”, this is how it is now.
Peter: You worked for a long time, to get used to all this, even to this day?
Eulalie: I am still not totally used to it. However, we the older generation, used to obey our mothers and fathers, very much. I try to follow my mother Angugaatiaq’s advice to me, at that time, that I try to make sure that I am in good relations, with her relatives and my relatives. I am in very good relations, for example his father(Zach Kunuk’s) father, is my brother. He is my cousin but, my “brother” in Inuit cultural ways. They are my very good relations. I am very good relations, by them. When my biological mother was alive, I was a very good sister to the likes of Louis Uttak and the rest. That was how, I was treated. When she died, they were “no where to be seen, disappeared”. When she was gone, I often say to myself, “it looks as though, I have no siblings”. Perhaps, it’s just me, personally, that I am distant from them. When my biological mother was alive, I was in very good relations with all of them, but when she was gone, it seemed as though, this was no longer the case. I noticed that myself. But, Marius, Therese, etc., I think of them, as my real biological siblings.
Peter: Those of us, who know you, think of you that way, too.
Eulalie: Yes. My younger sisters and my little brother Marius, think, I am their biological older sister.
Peter: Perhaps, we could go back to Naujaat-Repulse Bay and talk about your siblings taken to school. I started going to school with your younger sisters in Chesterfield Inlet, we were sent there together, and have some pictures of us at the school. When we were being taken away to school, this was very, very hard for parents and relatives. It was very hard for us and I know, it was very hard for the parents. When your younger sisters were going away to school and I think, Marius too, I wonder, if you could tell us, how much impact this had on you, at that time? Eulalie: It had a huge impact on me. When Marius was three years old, I went to Iglulik. He had not gone to school in Chesterfield Inlet, while I was there but was going to go to school, two years later. When the children were going to school and my dear little sister Theresie was leaving for school, oh my gosh, this was someone, I never parted with, we went every where together, we went to the church together, she was my little sister, a real sister, when she left, it was like, she was dead. It was like, she was dead, as I was not going to see her for entire year, apparently. She was going to be away for entire year, for the whole year. It was like, she was dead. At that time, when I was thinking so much of my little sister, I was no longer doing anything for a few days. But for that particular day, when she left, I was doing nothing, just sitting down and being very quiet. That was how it was. I thought then, perhaps, my little sister was kidnapped and become someone else’s. I wondered, what my mother was going to do. What are we going to do then? Throughout the entire night, I cried, as she was someone who always slept with me. I cried all night because, I was thinking so much of my little sister. Well, each time I thought of her, I used to think, I hope, no one is doing anything to her. I wondered if she was being scolded. I wondered if she was being physically hurt. I used to think, I wonder if my little sister is going to die, prior to coming home. I was thinking of my little sister for many days, for a long time.
At that time, I wanted to go to school in Chesterfield Inlet and requested of “Iksirarjualaaq” “Little priest” – Father Trebaol. I wanted to go with my little sister as I did not wanted her to be all alone. Not a wonder, she was someone who I used to baby sit, that I was with all the time, each time, we were together. We were inseparable. We went everywhere together. I kept her with me all the time but when she left to go to school in Chesterfield Inlet, it was as though, she had died. Then, I won’t be able to see her, any time soon. I wondered, if those mothers, were also heavily impacted. It must have been for sure.
And then, when Marie Pakak went to school in Chesterfield Inlet, at which time, my dear little brother and I were the only ones left. We were the only ones left behind. He was only three years old. That was very painful! Even though, you were not a mother, to see your younger siblings leaving, it was extremely painful! You cannot forget them, you continually worried about them. To see them leave at a very young age, it is very, very hard. I used to think, particularly at nights, if my little sister was crying. At one point, I was thinking that she was crying helplessly, I cried all night myself, as I was imagining her crying. I also wondered, if they were bad to her. I used to worry about her quite a lot. That was when they went out to school.
When they arrived, our happiness used to be complete.
Peter: Do you remember when they were going to school soon, if your parents were consulted by the priest? We want you to know that your children were going to be going to school, were they told of this by Iksirarjualaaq?
Eulalie: When they were in school in Chesterfield Inlet, did they provide you with information about how they were doing? Eulalie: No. Absolutely not. We were not informed what-so-ever! It was when they finally arrived, we used to think, nothing at all, has ever happened to them. They never, never told us of anything, they appeared to be happy. It was apparently, no.
Peter: Were you aware that they were able to phone home, through very high frequency radios, at the Roman Catholic Mission? Eulalie: At Christmas time. During the time Christmas coming soon, they used to let us hear voices, taped on a tape recorder, telling us of their regards. I was one of those who sent in their regards to them, by taping my voice on a tape recorder. Peter: Normally in May, they would take us back home, when they got back home, did they change their attitudes, their ways?
Eulalie: I remember my little sister, after she had been to school in Chesterfield Inlet, her attitude was changed and that, she was not a happy girl any more. She had grown up as well. When she left the first time, she was a very happy and talkative girl. When she got back home, she was often very quiet and at most times, motionless. I particularly noticed that. I remember my mother asking her: “Theresie, what is the matter with you?” “What is with you?” She would just say, “I don’t know”.
Peter: It was in 1958, Theresie was sent to the school for the first time?
Eulalie: Yes. Peter: I was part of this group, as we were flying there together. I remember this very well. When she got home at that time, how much of her language and culture, was she holding on to? Eulalie: Before going to Chesterfield Inlet, she used to be speaking Inuktitut all the time. When she arrived home, she was no longer talking as much in Inuktitut, although, she would talk. I noticed that she had become much quieter.
Peter: I wonder what kind of stories she used to tell her mother and father. Did she complain about things or was she a complementary person? Do you remember?
Eulalie: whether she was saying something that was complementary or complaining, I never heard her talk about it, as she was often very non-verbal. She was absolutely, not going to tell anything. Peter: She did not talk about the fact that we were only taught in English language? She did not say anything about those?
Eulalie: Yes, she would never tell us. She and Marie Pakak.
Peter: Do you have anything else to say about this issue?
Eulalie: At that time, when my sister Theresie was going out to go school, I wanted to go as well, but was refused. I wanted to look after her, in case, people were bad to her, in case when someone was bad to her, then I can defend her. That was what I was thinking. She was my little sister, and a much-loved sister, that I continually worried about her. I worried about whether she would be bullied against.
Peter: Today, those of us who went to school in Chesterfield Inlet, we speak about very difficult issues such as sexual abuses. Did you think, that was what was going to happen to us? Eulalie: Not at all. I never, never thought that for one moment at all! Priests were priests, Brothers were Brothers, I never thought of them as doing wrong things like that. It is apparently not!
Peter: When you think back about this abuse of children, keeping in mind that it is never part of Inuit culture, does it make you think, that those abused do not abuse our future children? Eulalie: Absolutely. That is how you think. Even today, you think about the little children in our current schools, you keep hoping nothing like that will be done to them. When a little child has been hurt like that and you asked them to tell, the thing is, they would never tell. When a little child has had something like this done, and as long as they were told, never to tell anyone, they would never tell, as they have a lot of wisdom. Peter: Those of us who went to school, we were given monies from the Canadian government. What is your understanding of this?
Eulalie: For me, when I first heard about it, it was like this: that the people who used to go to school in Chesterfield Inlet, will receiving a huge amount of money. I was not envious of them. I even said, it’s a good thing, I was refused to go to school in Chesterfield Inlet. What I said about this is that, those who are going to be given monies for going to school in Chesterfield Inlet, they will not heal! It won’t help them to help more. After they receive all this money, they will be happy about it but it’s all gone, then, it goes right back to it used to be. I thought, only if they start to talk about the problems, and finding solutions, then they will become more at peace. I also thought that, those who went to school in Chesterfield Inlet, were sexually abused but would never talk about it when they returned home, in those days. They would never say anything to their mothers, fathers, older siblings, as they were told, never to say anything to anybody. I thought to myself about the abused and the abusers, I wondered if the abusers who abused the little children, if they had forgiven themselves. If they had never forgiven themselves, then when it was time for Judgement Day, and see Jesus, then, they will be punished, if they had never felt any sorrow about what they’ve done. I wonder if any of them died, before they had a chance to say sorry about what they’ve done. I wonder, what they are going to in front of Jesus, on a Judgement Day? Will they be saved? That was what I was thinking.
I also wondered about the children who were abused in Chesterfield Inlet. I wondered if they pass on too, without ever saying anything about what has happened to them, and then face Jesus.
Peter Irniq: In 1990, the three of us, Marius Tungilik, Jack Anawak and I, Peter Irniq, we were the first ones to say something about this, what did you think about it?
Eulalie: At one point, my dear little brother Marius, told me a little bit about this, before. That was the first time, when he came here, to say something about it. When he come here, he used to come here and stay with us, not a wonder, I am his sister. When he and I were alone, he was very quiet, I asked him: “my dear little brother, what is wrong?” then he said, after he has been to go to school in Chesterfield Inlet, and then abused over there, he said, he thought, he was angry at those abusers. He said, he is sometimes very bad to his wife, as a result of being angry at those abusers. That was when I first knew about it, when he mentioned it. Aside from that, he never said anything else. Peter: In 1993, the three of us organized a Reunion of the Survivors of Chesterfield Inelt. Many Survivors from Iglulik came, as well as Gjoa Haven Survivors, Pelly Bay, Naujaat-Repulse Bay, we were talking about how we were abused. That was our main topic. We talked a lot about this as we wanted to take a big step of healing. We wanted to take off some of this huge struggle from us within. Was this reunion, helpful to our fellow-Inuit?
Eulalie: From what I felt, yes, it had a lot of help. From what I can see, those who went to school in Chesterfield Inlet, are more vocal and happier. Some are still not happy.
Peter: Do you think, some people who went to school in Chesterfield Inlet, need to tell the world about their experiences?
Eulalie: Yes. According to my thinking yes, particularly one person that I know.
Peter: After we had that reunion, we asked the Bishop of Hudson’s Bay Roman Catholic Diocese to come to Iglulik and Apologise to the survivors of Residential School in Chesterfield Inlet. He did that. His apology was shown all over Canada on TV and other news media. Was his apology helpful to the Survivors and others, about the issues, that we used to talk about?
Eulalie: If he has no sense of forgiveness, no. If he has a sense of forgiveness, yes, it would have been helpful. It is said that if we ourselves are not able to forgive, then it is said that we will also not be forgiven. The abusers, if there are any of them still alive, they also have to acknowledge and forgive, to those who used to go to school in Chesterfield Inlet. This is how, I feel it.
Peter: If we could have another meeting in Chesterfield Inlet or in another community, this time to discuss the successes of the school, would this be a good thing for survivors and their parents, their relatives, who are still alive today?
Eulalie: In some, it would be very good, as we have to continue to talk.
Peter: If the Prime Minister of Canada could stand up I the House of Commons and acknowledge the problems that occurred about sexual abuses and other things that happened to the survivors of Residential School. Would this be a big help as well?
Eulalie: Yes, in a real big way! It would have a real big help, if that Prime Minister, could apologise. Even if the priests, and the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, truly acknowledge and apologise to the survivors, I would be totally in an agreement with this. If they can truly say, I am sorry.
Peter: Not just pretending to say, sorry.
Eulalie: Yes, not just pretend, they are sorry!
Peter: Talking about those who went to school in Chesterfield Inlet, and others who are around here today, what kind of message would do you think, you would want to tell the people of Canada, about?
Eulalie: I would want the Canadian people to hear about the greatest love of God. About the greatest love of Jesus. There are two lives which came from God, they are as human beings, and soul. I would ask them to participate in apologizing. I would want them to know about the truth love of God. I would also say, that let’s not have any more of these types of abuses in the future, with the school children, within Inuit homelands. Within Inuit homelands, there are some teachers, who tend to do these things.
Peter: When we were being sent out to this Residential School, do you think, we were sent there to be assimilated into European thinking?
Eulalie: I think, you were sent to that school, to adopt the culture and ways of the White People. It was obvious, when you got home in May and during the time that you were home, you became more happy, living with your relatives. When you went to Chesterfield Inlet, to go to school, where is your happiness? That is how, I think of it.
Peter: When we were about to go to school, the priest used to come and pick us up, and removed us from our parents. Have you heard that for example, if our parents did not wanted us to go to school, then they used to tell our parents, if you did not allow your children to go to school, you could be put in jail by the RCMP or your family allowance(six dollars a month) could be stopped. Did you used to hear that too?
Eulalie: Yes, I heard that being said. For example, my dear little sister, was going to school for the first time, if she did not go to school, the family allowance can will be cut off. Or, this will be reported to the Police. Wow!! We were bullied!! Because of this, the parents, our parents, used to agree to have their children go to school, they were being intimidated by the actions. They just were not aware of their rights. Their little children were apparently treated in so many different ways, and because the parents did not know anything, they just used to say yes for them to go to school.
Peter: Do you have anything else to say?
Eulalie: Well, a darn priest, used to try and sexually abused me. Looking at the priests today, I am not their enemy, however I no longer have any use for them. I was trying to be abused by a priest but because, I was quite a strong person and we started to fight, the priest did not succeed with me.
Peter: When priests abused little Inuit children, when their bosses found out about them that they were doing this, have your heard that they used to be brought back to their homes, over seas?
Eulalie: No, I have not heard that. However, I do know something that happened in Naujaat-Repulse Bay. Do you remember my step-sister Genova? Roman Catholic priest named, Father Dedier at point stated that he gets very sick at nights. He apparently called Churchill(Manitoba) and said that he would be leaving. Here, we had Father Dedier and Father Marik, as our priests, they would deliver mass for us. That was every morning.
Then Father Dedier left in the spring time. Throughout part of that spring, my step sister(older) would spend much of her time with Father Marik. For us children in the community, when the clock hits 6 p.m., the mission used to open it’s doors for us to visit. When we would go there to visit and knock on the door, but there was no one to open the door!
As the rule goes, we used to go to Church every Sunday evening. We used to go and have our communion, however, we stopped receiving our Holy communion. Even on Sundays. We even stopped from going to Church, event though, this was our practice for a long time. At this point, both my step sister and Father Marik, would be in that house. I heard our father said to his daughter, like this: “Don’t be fooling around with a priest, he is after all, a priest! Inuit are out there! There are men out there!” That was what he said to her. But, there was no change. She stopped coming home and continued to spend all her time at the Mission. And for us, we no longer went going to Church, even on Sundays. It seemed as though, we no longer had a priest, and there was no Anglican Minister, at that time. Father Dedier was out during the entire months of June and July.
I remember our father making something out of a bearded seal rope. We did not think of it very much. He even made a handle at the end of the rope. Then he folded it. I remember thinking to myself, “what he is making?” After not coming home for quite sometime, my step sister, finally came home. When my step sister came home, my father did not say anything. And them, I saw him get angry! I had never seen him getting angry that much, since he became my (adoptive) father. He became my father when I was six years old. Since, we have been with him, I have never seen him get angry or complaining or even acting strange.
When she came home, he was as usual carving. He cleaned his hands, by shaking them like this, to clean the dust off, then put the carving that he was making, on the ground. There were dog harnesses just next to our doorway. And the one that he was making, was placed on top of the dog harnesses. We never had any storage for harnesses so, the harnesses used to be stored inside the tent.
Then, he took the rope that was making. He then, started to hit his daughter with that breaded seal skin rope that he had made, and hit her several times! My gosh, that was extremely scary! Well, if I could go from where I was sitting and if I could have disappear underneath the ground, that would have been fine with me! That was the very first time, I had ever seen him angry! He was hitting her, with the rope that he had made, earlier, without ever saying a word. However, there was no change with my step sister. It seemed, she became in love with the priest.
Peter: The priest? Eulalie: Yes, she was apparently having an affair with the priest. That winter, she had a baby son but he died. And also, my step sister, she also died, after having laboured the baby. Her little son was alive for a little while but died, soon. Perhaps, he was the child of Father Marik.
Finally when the winter time came and the ground had froze, Father Dedier came back very happy, now that he was home and he was fine. It was soon after that, he sent Father Marik out, from Naujaat-Repulse Bay. Since that time, I think, he ever came back to Naujaat-Repulse Bay. He never returned! At least, from what I know.
Peter: Thank you very, very much!
Eulalie: You are welcome!
Peter: However difficult the interview was, but thank you so much!
Filmmaker: Zacharias Kunuk
Year of Production: 2008
1h 48m 44s
Healing, interviews, Isuma, Residential Schools, stories, storytelling, testimonies, testimony, Truth and Reconciliation
Click on 'Read More' for English Translation ofTestimony by Peter Irniq, May 2008
English Translation of Testimony by Peter Irniq, May 12, 2008, Iglulik, Nunavut
Peter Irniq: We had a terrible Hudson’s Bay Trader back in 1956, like many of these people, were terrible. That summer in 1956, the Dew Line ships came and when left later on, they left a whole lot of material. Some things like pellets beach along the shore line, so one day, my father and Celestino and his father, walked over to where these pellets were beached, with the idea of taking them back to our tent. When we got there, the two adults, Celestino’s father and my father tie up the pellets with a seal skin rope, and Celestino’s father, started to pull the pellets back to his tent. Right at this point, this Bay Manager came along with his Jeep. With his was his girlfriend, even though, he was married. Well, me I took a beached light bulb, that was no longer going to be used, as I wanted it as my toy. Just when the Bay Manager was coming up, my father said to Amarualik, who was pulling the pellets, back to his tent. “He’s coming to get you!” meaning, the Bay Manager. He dropped his load and ran like heck to his tent, running away from the Bay Manager. My father waited for the Bay Manager to stop. When he stopped, he ordered my father not to touch the pellets. “Don’t touch those pellets, they will be used again.” My father responded in Inuktitut that translated into something like this: “You are a big lyer!” Then, he pointed to the woman inside the jeep and said to the Bay Manager, “she will be used again, stop being with her!”
That night Amarualik came over to visit and while drinking tea, they had a great big laugh about what happened that day. All they wanted to do was to use the pellets for qamutiik(sleigh) cross bars. The thing was, nothing was going to happen to the two men or the two of us boys. They were also not going to re-use the burned out light bulbs.
Zach Kunuk: Perhaps, you could tell a story about where you were born.
Peter Irniq: Yes, I was born in Naujaarjuat(A place of plentiful seagulls fledgelings) Lyon Inlet. My parents are known around here in the Amittuq, particularly by Elders. My father’s name was Angutitaq and my mother’s name was Katak. My sister’s name was Iguttaq. My older brother’s name was Ipuittuq Ivaluqut. Prior to my birth, they used to live around here. They lived here, perhaps from around 1940 to about 1946. At that particular period of time, they traveled by dog team from Gjoa Haven’s Utkuhiksalik(Back River) to Naujaat’s Ukkusiksalik(Repulse Bay’s Wager Bay). They lived there for a time, then they traveled this way through Naujaat-Repulse Bay, Sanirajak(Hall Beach) and then to Iglulik. They traveled all the way here, by dog team only. They used to talk a lot about people from this Region. When I became an adult, I got to meet the people they met and I used to say to myself, “oh those are the people, that my parents used to talk about”.
Over there, we never lived really in the community of Naujaat – the Settlement, as we were true Inuit, living off the land traditionally. We were true Inuit, with truly living the Inuit traditional ways. For example, for those watching us, we lived much like the ones that Isuma Produced sometime ago, Nunavut Series. The ones you guys made. At these scenes in the spring time, that is exactly how we used to live. We used to look for eggs, when there were eggs. And also, we hunt young mature seals, called Nattiat in the spring time as well. We went fishing, when it was time to fish. My father fished with kakivaak(fish leisters), that is how, he used to catch fish. He used to do this on the rivers and on the lake ice. He used iqaluujaq(fish inviter without a hook). As you pull the iqaluujaq up and down, just like jigging for fish, the fish would come, and my father would spear the fish down below, with his kakivaak. He used to catch a lot of fish, along with my brother-in-law at that time.
I grew up in a place called Nattiligaarjuk(a lake that has seals) Committee Bay. We used to fish there and we also used to fish at saputit(fish dam) built across the rivers to trap the fish, from going up stream. We fished just like in the films that you made. I used to participate in fishing, when I was just a little boy. When I started to learn how to fish at saputit, it was always hard to get some kakivaak material, such as muskox horns. That is what the kakivaak were made of. So, instead of using the precious kakivaak that the adults were using, my father used to make me kakivaak out of old fox traps. He fashioned them just like the real thing. We had no muskox around Naujaat either, so it was hard to get the real stuff to make the kakivaak. There is still not much muskox, perhaps you see one in the long run.
Up there, when we would fish at saputit in the mornings and in the evenings, there would be lots and lots of fish(Arctic Char). We would be spearing all the fish. I was a young boy at that time around 1952 or 53. When I was fishing inside the saputit, the water used to go up to my chest, so I was pretty small, fishing with my father and my brother in law. When my father and my brother-in-law were wading in the saputit, the water was just up to their knees. I guess, I was pretty small then. When I would spear a fish, I would pull the wooden handle of the leisters, towards my mother, who was on the dry land, then she would pull the fish on to the dry land. That was how I used to catch fish.
I remember when we were fishing one evening. It was so much fun and it was so wonderful! I remember being hit by a big fish, right behind my knee or at the back of my knee. That hurt really, really bad. When the fishing was finished that evening, my mother and I decided to look at my leg, I had a really big bruse(sp). Ouch!! It was painful! The reason for this was that the fish were swimming very fast all over, inside the saputit.
I also remember another story. It was a beautiful day and when we looked at the saputit from our tent, the fish were almost jumping up above the water. There were so much fish! I remember it was a beautiful day, sunny and hot. As a rule, my mother woke me up very early, so that we could all go fishing. When everyone else had left to the saputit to fish, I stayed behind. I was thinking that I didn’t wanted to leave the nice warm bed inside the tent, after all, I was a young child. I was going to go along with everyone but I decided not to go, as I really wanted to stay in bed. The bed was too cozy to leave!
After the fishing was done, everyone had came back to the tent. My mother was extremely angry with me. She was trying to teach me how to fish at saputit, and teach me how to fish. She then, spanked me quite a few times on my bum. That hurt very much. Every since then, I learned my lesson and tried to be obedient as I did not wanted to be spanked again. We Inuit, when we were spanked once, we would learn a great deal of lesson. Spanking was one of the ways of disciplining someone, it allowed us Inuit to be listenful, that was how it used to be.
The other thing was when the days would now begin to get dark in the evenings, and you could see the stars in the darken sky, and it was now obvious that the fish had stopped swimming upsteam. Now then, the little ducklings were swimming, with their mothers the sea water. My father would have an age-old knowledge, that they are now swimming in the sea, it was time to move inland to search for caribou. At this point, the caribou fur or hair was just right for making clothes, and there is now lots of tunnuq(fat) on the caribou. We would then practice our traditional methods of hunting caribou through “tagjarniq”, “nunarpangniq” in your Amitturmiut dialect, “moving inland”. We would do this on foot and walked many miles in search of caribou for survival of our family, dogs and for our clothing and winter supply of food. As a child, this walking on the land was very boring. Adults would be carrying heavy loads on their backs of our belongingss, such as tents, beddings, etc. The husky dogs on the other hand, would be carrying our other supplies as well on their backs, such as tents, kettles, food we had to survive on. When I would get tired, “kaka” me, by putting me on his back, and carry me, along with all the load that he was carrying on his back. When I was no longer tired, I would again start running back and forth, in front of family.
Up where we used to live in Nattiligaarjuk(Committee Bay), we lived all of the seasons. At one point, when we were inland, walking on this big sandy area, that extended many miles. Well, as I was walking and running ahead of the others, I noticed a little black spot ahead of me on this sandy surface. I ran towards it and when I got to it, it was one side of muskox horn. It was so old that it had lichen on it. It means, it was there for quite a while. I grabbed it and then here I ran back as fast as I could towards my father, mothers and other members of my family, to show off my find. I gave it to my father. My father was ever so thankful for me, for finding such a treasure, now, he could make a kakivak out of it. At his spare time, when the days were not good for hunting, he would patiently make a kakivak(fish liester) out of it.
During this particular period, which was in the fall time, my mother would sew all our caribou clothing, preparing them for winter use. On the other hand, men did cache the meat and fat for the winter supply. I truly love to eat the tunnuq(fat) and marrow. It’s amazing, how much I love to eat the caribou fat and marrow. I used to truly enjoy eating the patiq(the marrow). One time, my mother made me eat lots of patiq. I ate so much of it that, I got sick and had enough of it. Again, she was teaching me a lesson, not to eat too much of it. Since that experience, I don’t like to eat as much patiq as I used to, but still I like them, including the tunnuq. I also enjoy eating “kiksautit” and “iluit”, the caribou guts. These are the most delicious parts of the caribou. I also used to enjoy eating the eyes and ears of the caribou. These were the kinds of things I used to crave for, when I was a little boy. These were the delicacies for the little boys, like myself, when I was a little boy. To this day, whenever I go out caribou hunting on the land, I still eat the ears and eyes of the caribou. To me, that taste of a good delicacy is still there. My thought sometimes instantly returns to Inuit culture and traditions. This is how, I grew up in and around Naujaat.
In the winter time, I remember my father and others used to hunt seals very traditionally through the “agluit” “seal breathing holes”. They used very traditional hunting methods in those days, using only a downed hair of a bird, as an indicator when the seal would be coming to breathe through it’s seal hole. They also used a small thin piece of metal, which was lowered to the seal hole, to know when the seal would be breathing and then, it was time to harpoon it. They could not see the seal breathing, as all the seal holes were covered with snow during this period of time, which was normally in the month of March, when the days were getting longer. As a young man, I learned the techniques and I hunted using these thousands of year old methods. That was part of my life. In 1961, when my father decided against me going back to a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet, this period of my time was a really awesome period for learning about my own culture. Hunting with “qiviutaq”s birds downs and savgutaujaqs(thin metal) indicator of when the seal was coming up to breathe, these are one of the many things, I learned from my father about my culture. I learned a great deal from my parents, sometimes learning about Inuit myths and legends, listening to them telling stories about these was one of the most pleasant past times.
I used to ask my father to tell Inuit legends. Sometimes, he would tell a story about Kiviu, Inuit legend, who journeyed through many places. He would tell a story about Sakaliktuarjuk, a poor hunter who fooled every one in the village, that he was actually a good hunter. He would tell a story about Akturraarnaat, an evil mother, whose son was blind. My mother would tell a story about a sister and brother, who became thunder and lightening. These are the things I grew up with, as a young child. I learned about traditional pisiit(songs). My mother, father, my sister and my brother-in-law were very good sings, so I used to listen to them singing, traditional songs. I grew up to become an adult, knowing some knowledge about traditional songs of the Inuit and know how to sing some songs, to this day. I also have some knowledge about shamans. I used to watch my brother-in-law, practicing his healing of the sick. He was a shaman. My brother-in-law used his powers to heal the sick, using his angakkuuni(being shaman) techniques. My father, on the other hand, used to say, that he was not a shaman. Later on, I learned, people used to talk about him, that he was also an angakkuq. He was an extremely good hunter. He used to say, “out there” there must be something that we could see in terms of animals such as caribou. He would repeat this often, to the point where, it was repeated too often. He then, used to tell a story about spirits of angakkuit(shamans).
He used to tell stories about some Inuit who had birds for spirits. Some other people had other spirits, such as wolves, and Nanurluk(a polar bear spirit). Others used to have human beings as spirits. Sometimes, they used their parents, normally deceased as their spirits, such as mothers or fathers or other relatives. My father used to tell us a story about having a ptarmigan for spirit, and how unpleasant this was, when flying. He said, this is because, they not only fly very fast but flew all over the place. It seemed like, you can hit a hill or something. He said, he used to hear this from other people. He said, other hand, having an ukpigjuaq(an owl) for a spirit, they are very easy to fly with. He said, they would fly high up in the sky and can look both ways. And they could see everything and anything down on the ground. I used to think later on that maybe he was talking about himself. Maybe, he used to fly, but we just didn’t see him fly. This was probably how, he used to know where these animals are, that are “out there”. When he finally goes over to the land, that he was talking about repeated, sure enough, there was caribou. He was like that. I grew up learning by observing all the things about Inuit cultre.
In the summer time, as children, we used to go down to the beach when the tide was low, looking for Kanajuit(sea scorpions or scanvenger fish with large mouth). Sometimes, we used the go down, when pieces of broken ice were on the beach. We could start to hear the “qallupilluit”, they would be knocking again the ice or the ground. Qallupilluit are spirits, and cannot really be seen by any human being, unless you have extra ordinary powers, such as shaman. My father said, they had feathers like ducks. When we were children, like my friend, the late Simon Aglak, we used to like to go down and look for kanajuit. We used to live on the east side of Naujaat, at Kuugaarjuk, quite a bit of distance from Naujaat. When the tide was low, Simon and I used to look for kanajuit. We used Inuit Traditional Knowledge, looking for these kanajuit. Sometimes, when we would be walking close to the ice, qallupilluq(single) would begin pounding against the ice. When that happens, my mother would yell and say, “you might be gotten by a qallupilluq, come up to the land here”. When you were going to sleep at nights, as long as there was ice around, you could hear the qallupilluit pounding against the ice.
When we were looking for kanajuit, my mother also used to say, when you are out there, and if you see a “nipisa”(a round-shaped black fish with sticky pad protruding from throat with which it clings on to things, or sticks to your hand, like a scotch tape). My mother would say, the only way to take it off is with an ulu(a half-moon) woman’s knife. One time, when Simon Aglak and I were looking for kanajuit, I lifted the rock to see if there were Kanajuit, and all of a sudden, I saw this fish, I grabbed a hold of it, and it got stuck on the palm of my hand. My mother carefully, took it off with her ulu. That was how, I grew up as a child, with my parents in Naujaat.
Ever since I can remember, I used to hear about other Inuit from Uqsuqtuuq(Gjoa Haven) Region, Qairnirmiut(the people of Baker Lake area), Talurruaq, my father used to live within those regions. I used to hear about our fellow-Inuit in those areas. I grew up as a true Inuk, living in an iglu in the winter time. While living in an iglu, it can be old at times, especially when there was no oil on the qulliq(Inuit oil lamp). When you live on the sea coast, you used seal fat to light your qulliq. But when you are on the land, or inland, you would have a small oil lamp, that you carried with you. Since there was no seals on the land, my mother would use tunnuq(caribou fat) to light the small qulliq. She used to light the qulliq when she was going to sew our clothes in the evenings. We also used to chew the caribou fat to make candles. We used them for lights in the evenings. This is how I grew up in the Aivilik Region of Nunavut. When I was growing up, I grew up with much happiness and with wonderful things happenings. That was my cycle of life.
Zack Kunuk: What is it your Inuktitut name?
Peter Irniq: Taqtu Irniq, those are my Inuktitut names. My mother used to tell a story of her dream, when they lived in Maluk&ittat/Naujaarjuat or Lyon Inlet. She said, she dream’t about this Irniq. That Irniq had relatives in Naujaat as well here in Amittuq. He lived in that area around 1940 or 47. In her dream, my mother said, this Irniq wanted to be named in me. She said, her dream was almost life-like or as though she was awake. We were not related at all. This is why, I was named after that Irniq. Taqtu on the other hand, belonged to a lady relative of ours in Naujaat. When I was born, she named me after that special lady named Taqtu. When I was born and getting older, I remember calling her, “Taqtuuqatiga” “my fellow Taqtu”. This was part of Inuit culture that we practiced. To this day, whenever I talk about her, I refer to her as “Taqtuuqatiga”. This is very important aspect of Inuit culture. I only have two Inuit names. On the other hand, when I was born in 1947 and baptized by a Roman Catholic priest, I was named Pierre. Inuit called the priest Kajualuk(because his big beared was brown) so Inuit called him Kajualuk, translated to “Big Brown”. When I was going to a residential school, I became to be called as Peter, by the Qablunaat(White people).
Zack Kunuk: When you still a true Inummarik, I guess, you would never pronounce the names of the older people? You would have calling titles for them, “tur&urautiit?”
Peter Irniq: Yes, particularly, the old, old people, people who were much older than us. They were the fellow-Elders of my parents, my father. We were taught from never to call them by name. Even, if we did not have calling titles for them, we were told not to call them by their names. We respected their Elderships and their ages. It was like honoring them. As children, we were told not to call the older people, those who were older than us, by names. Some we had calling titles for them, and even when they were not related to us for example, we would call them, “my avvakuluk” “my dear little same name”. “My uncle over there”. We had different calling titles for them. “My same-age or equal-age person”. When people were named after certain individuals, we naturally had calling for each other. We were taught to respect and honor. When an Elder came into our tent, and I was sitting down, I was to stand up immediately and allow the Elder to sit down. I was told, do this, without being told.
Zack Kunuk: When was it that you were sent off to school?
Peter Irniq: Some Naujaarmiut(people from Naujaat) were sent off to school around 1953, 54 and 55. In those days, they were being sent to school in Igluligaarjuk(Chesterfield Inlet). As for me, I knew I was never going to school. I knew this because, I grew up as a true Inummarik, and knew that I would live an adult life as a true Inuk, a hunter, fisher, and trapper. Ones that are older than I am, they started going to school around 1954-55-57 to Chesterfield Inlet. It was around that time. For me, going to school was something that I was not prepared for as we never lived in a community with other people. My father used to say that living in a community, all you get is welfare from the Qablunaat. He didn’t want to be like that. He always wanted to be close to animals for food and clothing. We lived in Naujaat, I think, only two times, once in 1956 and another time in 1957. At that time, my fellow-youth, were being sent off to a residential school. As for me personally, we living in Tinujjivik(a favorite fishing spot of the Inuit in the spring time, when the fish were swimming down stream). We living there in the summer time and it was in the month of August. It was a time of year when the days were really beautiful, sunny and hot. Tinujjivik is not visible from Naujaat, but if you live in Naujaat, you could see in the distance, the outpost of Tinujjivik. It is around 13 miles west of Naujaat. Tinujjivik is a place for fishing. In the spring time, people would build saputit and when the tide is low, the Arctic Char would be trapped inside the saputit, and that was how we used to fish at Tinujjivik. We would move there in the spring time and moved a short distance to the east, where there are more seals in the area.
Well, that summer of 1958, we could see a boat coming, with an engine. We could see it very clearly, as it was a very beautiful day. As our custom goes, my mother started to make tea by burning heathers, as this was a summer time. We only used heather and other moss to boil tea in those days. It was such a wonderful feeling that we are having some visitors, so she decided to make tea to welcome the visitors. Then they beached the boat. As they beached, we walked down to the beach to greet the visitors, and all of us, walked down behind my father. But that father, a priest, the late Father Dedier, came off the boat, first. He came off the boat, and said to my father, “Peter Irniq is going to school in Igluligaarjuk so we came to pick him up”. He didn’t even greet my father by shaking hands! I have never seen my father panicked but at that point, he was panicky. So he ordered me by saying, “they came to get you, go put on some nicer clothes”. My mother and I quickly went back to our tent and she made me put on niururiak, a seal skin boots, with the fur outside. I got all dressed up in my best, and off we went to Naujaat. The visitors didn’t have tea. As Inuit, they would have stopped to have tea, if they were regular visitors, then leave after they had tea. I don’t have any idea why this happened the way it did. I wondered, if the priest had told them earlier that, before anything happens, we should leave immediately. I don’t know. When we were traveling towards Naujaat, my goodness, it was lonely. It was the loneliest time of my life! It was too awesome!
Zack Kunuk: You then, left your parents?
Peter Irniq: “Yes!”
It comes back instantly! My parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and my little brother, who died in later years, my niece, I watched them, as we are traveling farther and farther away from them. They were all standing by the shore, seeing me off, until I was no longer visible by eye. Wow! Perhaps, it’s that particular incident, when I was suddenly taken away, it’s been long time ago, since 1958, to me, it comes back quite suddenly, to the time I was a child. That very part, it is very difficult to become adult with. You stayed a child forever! Even though, I am a old person now, but sometimes, you have to returned to it, or re-visit it, instantly. And so, we were on our way to Naujaat.
Zack Kunuk: How old were you at that time?
Peter Irniq: Eleven. Yes, I was 11 years old, when I was taken away. So, we were traveling towards Naujaat. I watched my parents, as they were no longer visible by eye sight. They were still standing on the beach. They were also watching until we were no longer visible in the horizon. When we finally got to Naujaat, I was made to go to Angutinguaq family. My father and Angutinguaq were cousins. So I was to stay with this family, according to the wishes of the Roman Catholic Church. They were the adoptive parents of Jack Anawak. We had been here for some days, I guess my parents would watch from where they were, to see if the plane had come and coming to land in the water in Naujaat. Even though, Naujaat was some distance away, they could see airplanes from where they were. Since, they did not see any planes landing in Naujaat, a few days later, my father and my brother-in-law, came over by canoe with an outboard motor. When they arrived, it was so wonderful! Since they arrived, I became relaxed, knowing that I now have a foundation here in Naujaat.
At that point, Angutinguaq, who I called Haluuruluk. Since they were in the south in 1925, spokes some English, I was to call him, my Haluuruluk(my darn Hello). Now that my father and my brother-in-law here, I had a foundation and practically no more worries and stress. At that point, Father Dedier had said, the plane would be here to pick us up, after three or four days, to bring us to Igluligaarjuk. He said, we were free to do whatever we wanted to do. Now that we are free to do whatever we wanted to do, and there was lots of broken ice in Naujaat at this point. My Haluuruluk had a boat called Uvajuk, it was very tippy so it was called that name. Using Uvajuk, we would go down to the sea, in between the ice, to see if there might have been bearded seals or walruses. We were doing this, while we were waiting for a plane. Once we were out there, they got me to steer the boat, while my father, Haluuruluk and my brother-in-law were on the look out for the animals, maybe polar bears. We waited may be about four days, a single engine plane came to pick us up. And so, we board the plane, and we were now on our way to Igluligaarjuk. It was my first time in an airplane. I remember my father having a discussion with another Inuksuk, when I was much younger child. This man was on an airplane previously. My father had asked him, when the plane was taking off, do you watch the ground? We used to get very few planes in Naujaat in those days. So, this man was telling about an airplane ride he had. He said, when they were taking off, and he was looking down on the ground, he could see that as they were going so fast, he could see stripes of blue, green or red or yellow. Remembering that story, I was looking down on the water as we were taking off. As you know it was my first time on an airplane. I kept on a lookout for green, red or yellow stripes. There was nothing. It was actually a slow airplane. Perhaps, he was exaduating(sp), to make the story more interesting. And when we were going back home, we were taking off from the snow, it certainly was not like that, there were no beautiful stripes. There were about 10 or 12 of us, who were brought from Naujaat to Igluligaarjuk. We traveled to Chesterfield Inlet for about two-and-a-half hours.
Zach: With a single engine airplane?
Peter Irniq: Yes, with a single engine airplane. This airplane belonged to the RCMP, the one they used to bring us over. On the side of the airplane was a yellow stripe, with a dark blue paint. The tail of the plane had a yellow paint as well.
Zach Kunuk: When you are getting close to Igluligaarjuk and the time you were landing to Chesterfield Inlet, can you tell us about that?
Peter Irniq: I remember this very well! I don’t forget things at all, so I remember it very well. I am an Inuk. I grew up as a real Inuk, at that time. My mother and father, always used to tell me to be looking or observing…always. If you see something, then you will be able to tell me. Look for animals. I used to look around for anything, at that time. When we left Naujaat, it was a beautiful day. We arrived to Igluligaarjuk, it was even more beautiful. Hot! There were some clouds. There were beautiful clouds, with the sun shining. When we got closer, the sea water didn’t seem to be as beautiful. But the land, was beautiful, much like Naujaat environment. The stone formations were beautifully bright! I could see all those each time I look down below me, from an airplane. They very much resembled, Naujaat rock formations. Naujaat has those. When we were getting closer to landing, the land and sea were both beautifully pleasant. That time, we landed at Tasiraaluk(a small big pond). Tasiraaluk belonged to Iguligaarjuk, it was situation just around the houses. We landed there at Tasiraaluk, a fairly big pond. The airplanes landed so it was quite a large pond. The Roman Catholic Church used it for water supply. We beached on a beautiful rocky beach with the plane. When we beached, we all got off. I saw some Inuit there but then, I saw the Sisters, the Grey Nuns, for the first time in my life. They wore long dresses, and their hoods had little “furs”, but with lots of little holes, just like window screens. Some of the nuns were extremely beautiful! When I first started seeing Qablunaat, they were always beautiful. To see the Grey Nuns, they were even more beautiful than the Qablunaat, that I had seen previously, which weren’t many. I started to see the Qablunaat there, some belonged to the Department of Transport and others were priests. I used to think, I wonder if White People had ugly people. They all seemed to beautiful and handsome. The Grey Nuns that I noticed so much being different than most people, were to be our care takers, supervisors. They came to meet us. So, I was standing there, as I didn’t know where to go, nor have any place to go. My fellow Naujaarmiut were there, Paul Maniittuq, John Ninngak Mike Kusugaq, and Katherine and the late Francios Nanuraq. There was also Nick Amautinnuaq and Jose Kusugaq, who we knew only as Amaujaq in Naujaat. When our names were changed by the Government of the Northwest Territories, he became Jose Kusugaq. He was along with us. There was also Agatha from Naujaat. There were others, Maria, Theresie, now Theresie Tungilik. She has his father’s name today. Those are the ones who came here to Igluligaarjuk. There was this little Qablunaaq, he was slightly bigger than I am. As I was 11 years old, I was not that tall. I maybe, was about this height. As he was standing next to me, and kept looking at me and then asked me: “What is your name?” with a French accent. I understood what he said, as the year before in 1957, we were taught some English by the Roman Catholic priest, perhaps for a week or so. We were taught in English about things that were inside the Roman Catholic Mission in Naujaat. “Box” “Seal” “House” so we learned a little bit in English, then. “Fish” I used to tell my father about what we had learned. He used to recognize the words that I told him about. The four of them, including my Haluuruluk Angutinguaq, Tapatai and Savikataaq were in the land of the Qablunaat in 1925. They were in Newfoundland, Halifax and in Montreal. When they returned, they learned some English and were able to speak some English. So what I was learning, he would recognize them once I tell him about them. We were taught by Iksirajuakuluulaurtuq(Formerly Father Franzen), and Father Dedier. So, when he asked, “what is your name”, I understood him. As I answered him, I was extremely timid and said, Peter. Also, I was feeling very strange to see the Inuit of Igluligaarjuk. Everything was too awesome for me!
From there, we were led by a Sister to the hostel. I walked along with my good friend Paul Maniittuq. Both of us walked in behind a Sister, as we were told to follow her. We were apparently going to the big house, the Turquetil Hall. It was a huge building, green in color. I turned to one side and noticed another big building. These buildings looked really big. I also noticed the Church Rectory, it was beautifully built. When I looked to the west, there was a Statue of Virgin Mary, surround by rocks, it was beautiful. From there, we saw another large building, two-storey, this was a hospital as well as being a home for the Nuns. This one was not to be our home, at that point. The one, we were going to was a two-storey hostel, it was to be our home for entire winter or during all the time, that we were going to be in Igluligaarjuk. We called it Iglurjuaraaluk – a real big hosue. When we got there, we were told to take our clothes off. We were to have a bath. We were deliced. We got our haircuts. We got our haircuts with those old fashioned manual hair cutters. I had a very short hair. In fact, all of us young boys had very short hair at that point. I also noticed that day that the young girls also got a hair cut, by cutting their hair, right across their forehead. They looked so different. It was the firs time I ever saw a bath tub, as we didn’t have bath tubs in Naujaat. It was the first time I ever saw and worn shoes. I put a short sleeve shirt for the first time. That was the first time, I ever put on a foreign clothing like that. Wow, it was so awesome! There were lots of boys and girls, Iglulingmiut, Qamanittuarmiut(Baker Lake) kids, Arviarmiut(Arviat kids), there were many of them. That day was something to remember, that very day in Igluligaarjuk.
Then when the night time came, we were told to go into our large, huge bedroom. There were many beds. I was given my bed, complete with sleepers or pjamas. I didn’t know a darn thing about these items, as we did not use them in Naujaat. As an Inuk, I slept completely naked, at home. Just before, we went to bed, we were told “to kneel down” and pray. I guess, this was the beginning of praying. We prayed a lot. That evening was just the beginning of our praying. When we woke up the next morning, we prayed firs thing, then just before our breakfast, when we got to the school, we prayed first thing, we used to go to school at 9 in the morning. Right after we said the Lord’s Prayer, “our father who art in heaven…” then we sang, what is apparently a “Oh Canada” song, Canadian National Athem. I didn’t know what I was singing about but just trying to follow along and copied everybody. I was completely unaware of what these songs mean’t.
We had our teacher, who was a Grey Nun. After that first morning of schooling, we had to pray again, just before we left for lunch. When we got into the dining room of our hostel, we prayed. Just before we left for school, we prayed again. When we got to the afternoon school, we prayed again and then sang, God Save the Queen. We stayed in school during the afternoon for about two-and-a-half hours. Then when the English classes were finished, a Roman Catholic priest came over to teach us catechasm. This activity was also very noticeable to myself, especially, during the early stages of staying there. I was happy with this exercise, as we were able to speak our own Inuktitut language. Whereas at the school, we were told to speak only English. We were completely forbidden to speak our own Inuktitut language.
At that time, Father Farard used to teach us catechasm. I had some idea about the Bible and the prayer, mostly I’ve learned this from my mother. This was prior to going to Igluligaarjuk. Prayer books were used quite a lot in those days, I even have one at home, one of the first prayer books of the Church. The top page has a drawing of a church, couple of iglus and Inuit. I have the old prayer book. When that priest was teaching us about the bible, I was the most knowledgeable one about it. I knew so much that I won a prize from Father Fafard. This was shortly after, we’ve been there for a short time. For my Prayer Book knowledge, he gave me a green apple for a prize. I didn’t know it was an apple. When you go outside, you can eat it, he said. So, when we got outside, I decided to take a bite out of this apple: Oh, what a horrible taste!! I found the apple so horrible tasting, so I gave it to Marius Qajuuttaq, who was walking with me up to the Turquetil Hall. I told him, I just hated the taste of it so I said, you can have it. A year ago, he has already been to that school, so he like it and found it very delicious! As for me, I ate a lot of Inuit food, such as dried meat, so I totally found dried fish very delicious. So, I gave that apple to Marius. I wonder, if he sometimes thinks about it today.