The Fan Hitch Volume 13, Number 3, June 2011

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International
In This Issue....

Editorial: Know the Dog, the Land and the People

Fan Mail

Chinook Project Returns to Labrador

Canadian Animal Assistance Team Returns to Baker Lake

Ghosts of Dogs Past

A Conversation with
Charlotte DeWolff of Piksuk Media and
Jake Gearheard of the Ilisaqsivik Society


Qimmivut: the Ilisaqsivik Society’s Dog Team Workshop

Media Review: Of Ice and Men (book)

IMHO: Succession


Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch


Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

ISDI home page


Editor's/Publisher's Statement
Editor-in-Chief: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
Print Edition: Imaged and distributed by the IPL students of the Ulluriaq School, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: http://thefanhitch.org.

Print subscriptions: in Canada $20.00, in USA $23.00, elsewhere $32.00 per year, postage included. All prices are in Canadian dollars. Make checks payable in Canadian dollars only to "Mark Brazeau", and send to Mark Brazeau, Box 151 Kangiqsualujjuaq QC J0M 1N0 Canada. (Back issues are also available. Contact Sue Hamilton.)


The Fan Hitch
welcomes your letters, stories, comments and suggestions. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.


Contents of The Fan Hitch are protected by international copyright laws. No photo, drawing or text may be reproduced in any form without written consent. Webmasters please note: written consent is necessary before linking this site to yours! Please forward requests to Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Rd., Harwinton, Connecticut  06791, USA or mail@thefanhitch.org


The Inuit Sled Dog International

The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog. The ISDI's efforts are concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to its native habitat. The ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and questions.

ISDI Coordinator Canada:
Geneviève Montcombroux, Box 206, Inwood, MB R0C 1P0; gmontcombroux@gmail.com
ISDI Coordinator USA:
Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, mail@thefanhitch.org
From the Editor....

Know the Dog, the Land and the People

The speedometer's needle on our little Honda Civic wagon was pegged at somewhere over 80 mph  (129 kph) for a good portion of our three-day journey to The Pas, Manitoba, Canada. But we had a train to catch: the fabled Muskeag Express, a gentle 25 miles (40 km)-per-hour, clickity-clack overnight meander across the fragile taiga ending in Churchill, Manitoba.

Breathless and bright-eyed, we arrived at the train station with a couple of hours to spare. When we told the man behind the ticket counter we were staying in Churchill for a whole week, he shot an incredulous look at us and grunted, "Most tourists come back in a few hours, on the train's evening return. What the heck do you plan on doing there for an entire week?" We had no response. Although we spent an enormous amount of time planning this adventure, we really weren't altogether sure what we would be doing for a whole week. All we were certain of is that we were determined to go to the infamous dump to see the polar bears, our only motivation for this, our first venture north inspired by a dreadful National Geographic polar bear documentary.

As naïve as we were back in 1982, we managed to stumble onto doing one thing right. We did stay in Churchill an entire week. After dropping off our duffle bags at the Beluga Motel we hustled to the Arctic Trading post where the day's trainload of tourists was welcomed to town with tea and bannock. Later all scurried around the community, ours a more relaxed pace than the others, to take in some of the sites. After a long and exhilarating day, the visitors hustled back onto the train while we returned to our room to make dinner in our little kitchenette and plan our visit to the dump.

The following morning we returned to town to walk around. In more ways than one, a new day had dawned. Not a "train day", the streets and sidewalks were no longer awash with visitors. But what was so very remarkable was that as we wandered about, people smiled at us, greeted us, stopped to chat with us! While train day tourists were warmly treated, we got the impression that because we chose not hustle out of town after a few hours, our continued presence seemed to result in residents treating us differently, as if they were willing to open up a little, to include us so we could experience the community beyond the obvious tourist venues. Because of our perceived interest in learning more, many residents were, in turn, interested in sharing more. This developing rapport was not lost on us. It was an "A-ha" moment, and one that guided all of our future visits to the North.

Sixteen years later, in the very first issue of The Fan Hitch I wrote in an article titled Know the Dog, the Land and its People, "One cannot know the Inuit Sled Dog without an understanding of its recent and ancient history, where it came from, under what conditions it evolved and the people responsible for making this the finest freighting sled dog in the world. For it is the "big picture" that give us a greater appreciation of this marvelous dog. To do any less would not only take the dog out of context, but also be a grave injustice, especially, to the Inuit people themselves." Now thirteen years after writing that and twenty-nine years after that first northern exposure in Churchill, those words still ring true. And in this issue of The Fan Hitch Jake Gearheard, Executive Director of the Ilisaqsivik Society in Clyde River, Nunavut explains the far-reaching effects of the Inuit Dog on Inuit life and traditions. And he also looks forward to a day when people will come to his culturally rich community for more than just polar bear hunting, base-jumping off the region's cliffs or a dog sled ride. Jake's wish echoes our longstanding believe that Inuit Dogs and Inuit history, culture and traditions are intimately intertwined. And the former cannot be enjoyed and appreciated without taking the time to learn more about the latter. I hope you will be lucky enough to someday visit Clyde River or one of the other northern Canadian hamlets. Be sure your time in the community includes the bigger picture, the sum of all the parts, for there is far more to know about the Inuit Dog than what first meets the eye. You are sure to be richly rewarded by people who are eager to share their stories.

Wishing you smooth ice and narrow leads,

                       Sue
Return to top of page