Camping - Life On The Land  

Camping is a custom in this day and age that merely surfaced during the development of the Inuit community of Belcher Islands, now known as Sanikiluaq.

  “We hardly went camping back then; we were only a few numbers gathered together. When more gathered and started building houses to start forming a community is when we started going. Camping enables us to use our traditional ways and gather food and anything we could use. We started this for our children so they would start to realize and know what things are done while hunting, camping, and what things they can craft.”

   “Although we don’t use much of our traditional ways when we are out on the land, we are out there because we enjoy it very much. We make use of our traditional ways in the manner that the animals we hunt are used conservatively for food and anything that we can utilize. We are not just out on the land; we are out on the land working hard. It is very important because the children and youth that follow us when we go camping would start to recognize and understand. They are our futures that are branching out on their own. We as elders won’t always be here and for this reason, our youth today will provide and care for us when we are old and unable to care for ourselves. These children learn from their parents what things need to be done and it encourages them to think, “this is what my parent’s had done, this is what I’m going to do.” Camping didn’t have much of a meaning because that was how we lived our lives. We lived anywhere on the land and thrived from its natural resources and moved else where when food and recourses became scarce”

   “Today, we are significantly influenced by the Qallunaaq and use their means of transportation for traveling. The government depraved us of our traditional transportation. We were no longer allowed to have our dog sled teams. In return, with a price when money was not easily available, had to purchase Qallunaaq vehicles for our transportation to go hunting and camping. Although we have been unfortunate, it is important to show the government our way of life. The animals provide us with the food we need for absolutely no cost. We intentionally go hunting to provide ourselves with the free food. Qallunaantaq food is only available if you have the money for it.”

   “This is now a tradition that did not exist and only recently is it starting to build its tradition. We are all gathered together in a community today and at times, it feels that going camping is all that we have.”

   Camping offers us an opportunity to escape from the community and leave any restraints that we may have had behind. Camping is suitable for many aspects in life. It has the ability to raise our strength of reason, determination, and sense of self. Camping gives us an opportunity to focus our energy on something else for a change. “It clears your thoughts and mind.” (Camp 03)

   Camping may be difficult at first if you have never gone because camping requires a lot of work. There are lots to do. But once you get in to the movement of things, it’s not difficult at all. You need to make special considerations when going camping. You must insure that you have all necessities to go, even clothes need to be appropriate for our climates here in the north. It is also important to test your tent leggings to make sure that they fit and bring all your essentials, don’t rush. Prepare everything that you will need for as many as three weeks.

   Conditions of the sea ice are also important that require close instruction. During the springtime, it does not look at all threatening; “it looks the same all round.” But the ice starts to melt and thin from the currents. “It’s an excellent time to go camping and use it as a teaching tool.” Teach our youth the difference between the melting ice of the sea and lake. “I have strong hope that we teach our youth to use the traditional techniques combined with the present day techniques on how to follow safe trails.” (Mina Inuktaluk) It’s impossible to know the conditions of the ice if you haven’t been taught.

   Although our youth today hardly go hunting or camping, more should try to follow and see how much excitement is involved. “It makes you want to live, there is no other way of saying it.” (Camp02) If we were educated about the significance of camping, we would want to use it more often. As unfortunate as it is, some never had an opportunity to go.  But “it’s always wonderful to go some place new. It gives us a chance to eat.” (Camp02)

   Camping also allows for multi-generations an opportunity to pass down oral traditions and share life experiences. “We should not just let our traditions fade away because we should know what it was like for our ancestors. It is a way of life that we should be familiar with. Enough has been lost, lets try using our traditions more often. Our culture shapes who we are.” (Camp02) Youth today don’t know enough about their cultural history and it is encouraged that more take an interest to learn. “Follow the pattern of our children’s growth and teach them the significance about camping as they are growing.” (Camp 03)

    In the modern world, we have adapted to a new life style that is very different from our traditional ancestors. Camping today is not the same as before. We, in the community of Sanikiluaq have things that we have never had before. It is not even comparable how many things have changed. As much as it has significantly altered our traditional ways, it has made our lives a great deal easier. “It used to be alright using dog sled teams to go camping. They could travel a long distance in a day. Unfortunately we could not really return our dogs today but I’m sure that if we tried willingly we could.” (Camp02) When one didn’t have any Qallunaantaq food, he/she believes that they can’t go camping at all. “People don’t eat just all traditional foods anymore.” (Camp 05)  Elders can remember a time when “people couldn’t eat all day because there was nothing to eat at all.” (Camp01) Along with many others, the weather has changed significantly as well. Our elders recall growing up and being educated about the importance of identifying the types of weather patterns. They obtained first hand training from their parents or guardians and were taught to watch the weather. “It’s just not the same today.” (Camp01)

   People were never concerned about others while they were gone camping, there was nothing to worry about when you know the life style of the Inuit. “It was not at all worrying because we all know what skilled survivors we can be. But it’s not always easy.” (Camp02) We go camping out on the lands because we know the capability of surviving. “The land prompts you to appreciate its history every time you see a familiar campsite.” (Camp 04) “I strongly hope that our campsites are unaltered and no buildings constructed.” (Annie Appaqaq)

   We should encourage the youth today the importance of spending time outdoors. Teach them the traditional lifestyle;

“it is no wonder they have no place at heart and nothing to turn to.  If they didn’t finish school, they did not have a future. It’s happened before and we still see it today.” (Mina Inuktaluk)

Although our youth have gone to school, they do not understand which life style to follow; they live in a mixture of two cultures. “They are among their people, but share non-of their values. Secondly, they don’t understand what to do in the modern world today.” Stressing the importance of teaching and learning, Mina comments that people all round the world should learn and try to understand our traditional and natural ways of life. “We are a part of the people of this earth with the exception that we live in cold climates and survived on what foods our ancestors ate.” She also adds, “we should also encourage our young men and women to recognize the traditional roles of both sexes.” (Mina Inuktaluk)

   Camping is a wonderful method for teaching our youth today the traditional knowledge of survival. It is very important for teaching our youth the hunting skills required for becoming a successful hunter.

“It would mean a great deal to have our youth learn what life was like for our ancestors and learn them well. It’s very important, pay very good attention to our elders because it is through their oral history that we, the Inuit community of Sanikiluaq are going to be able to say that it is true as we have been told.” (Camp01)

“I would like to stress the importance of keeping this tradition alive. I would hate to see it change.” (Lotty Arragutainaq) “We, as elders should pass on any knowledge and traditions that we may remember.” (Camp01)

“If we want to keep our traditions to this day, money is what’s running our lives. We have been trained for money. Money is what we should teach our children today, the importance of handling money carefully. This should be a major stepping stone for our future.” (Camp 05)

 

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