Travelling and Surviving on Our Land is based on two interviews conducted by students at Nunavut Arctic College in 2000. George Agiaq Kappianaq and Cornelius Nutaraq, two elders from North Baffin, share with the students their recollections of the past and their experiences of travelling on the land.
Agiaq tells us about his family, his childhood, and life as a young adult, as well as his travels in Alarnaarjuk, the Melville Peninsula. He also describes life before Christianity and his own conversion. Nutaraq remembers his childhood in Mittimatalik and several of his travels around Tununiq and the Mittimatalik area.
Both elders evoke different components of their travels. They talk about dogteams and ways to guide oneself while travelling. They also share their memories of dangerous places and describe the non-human beings that you may encounter while travelling. Later, they discuss the risks of travelling on the land, and share the knowledge that one needs to be safe.
These interviews constitute a privileged exchange between two generations. In the course of the interview, the elders sometimes talk about how the daily life of Inuit today differs from the one they recall. This exchange revolves around the knowledge of the elders on the land but it also depicts through Agiaq’s and Nutaraq’s individual accounts the drastic changes that occurred in Inuit’s lives.
Another time I was in a dangerous situation during the spring run-off. The current was very strong, and we were trying to cross a river. There was still some snow. When a river is about to burst, the term for this is supijuq. I let the dogs know that we were in a dangerous situation. I had to talk to my dogs harshly. My wife was holding on to me with the qamutiik tie, the naqitaruti. We rushed across the river. The dogs made it, and part of the qamutiik did as well. Then the river burst, and the qamutiik was pulled sideways. Because I had talked to my dogs harshly, they knew that they were in a situation where they had to pull hard. The dogs just managed to pull the sled up onto the land. (Page 55)