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Inuit Knowledge & Climate Change: Lasalusie Ishulutaq

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22 novembre 2010


Lasalusie Ishulutaq speaks about the past and sings traditional songs.

"Grandmother would tell a lot of stories and also make predictions. She once said to mother: "I have a twitchy eye". When someone's eye does that, it's called Takusiaq, and when it happens, you know someone will arrive in camp. Although she said it, nobody paid any attention. Time passed and somebody arrived and it was a person we don't see everyday. We used different kinds to do predictions. One time, we were left in camp, our men dog teaming to Pang for winter supplies. When a raven began hovering above. We children were told to shout at it "snap your beak towards the old wooden ship". And when we shouted, the raven turned on the wind, snapping its beak. And as expected, that evening our men returned from Pang. By these predictions, we used to know what was going to happen."

When we were children, we operated by playing all day. In the evening, we'd expect the hunters home. Boys and girls, we'd be playing "who could hear the dog team first", and one at a time we'd go out to listen. And when they're coming in their singing. When a child comes in with a long face, it means they didn't hear anything. And another goes out and stands their quietly and we're inside. When one comes in smiling, the children rush out because the person has heard the dog team.

In the evenings, we were taught by our grandparents: "never play with the window". You're not even supposed to eat ice off the window. It was said, if you eat that ice as an adult, the seal holes you're standing over will freeze up. And you might get an unfortunate pay back. The revenge sound is called Akkiuq. When it happens, it starts from above and continues down making a rumbling noise inside the earth. It's very creepy and scary.

My grandfather who used worked in Pangnirtung, but moved to Tuapaq camp, had come to fetch us. He was using his stepson's dog team and on our way we passed by Pang fjord. Although my grandfather had relatives there, we did not stop to see them. Today we realize that it was because they would shoot dogs in Pang. So we just passed.

We're always talking to each other, in consultation with elders, and sometimes we get together as communities. This isn't a meeting, it's people chatting. I was told: "Lasarusie, our world will give up, and animals will not be able to eat". I know that day will come. My grandmother used to say: "Water will be undrinkable and animals will be inedible". My grandmother tells the truth. I never used to believe her. She used to say: "Inuit will get together"; yet we were in our little camp, on the land, and this was unthinkable. My grandmother was telling the truth and now we're all together in communities.

My old man, when we stocked young seals, he used to sing. Singing would put seals to sleep and it wouldn't move. He sang every time he'd stock a seal. I'd be guarding the sled and dogs. SINGING. I always enjoyed my father's singing. When he was far off in the distance, you couldn't hear him, until he turned his face, and then you'd hear his voice. The seal would be sleeping and he'd get his prey. The seal loved that song so much. I try to sing that song, even today when I'm stocking seals.




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