Editorial: Know the Dog, the Land and the People
Chinook Project Returns to Labrador
Canadian Animal Assistance Team Returns to Baker Lake
Ghosts of Dogs Past
A Conversation with
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Jake Gearheard of the Ilisaqsivik Society
Qimmivut: the Ilisaqsivik Society’s Dog Team Workshop
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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.
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Qimmivut - Our Dogs
The Dog Team Workshop of the Ilisaqsivik Society of Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada
by Jake Gearheared
For four weeks at the end of February 2011, the Ilisaqsivik Society* organized a land-based cultural workshop and community hunt by dog team to Arviqtujuq and Majuallaruluk, traditional camps of historical and cultural importance to Kangiqtugaapingmiut - the people of Kanngiqtugaapik (Clyde River). Workshop participants included six mushers/instructors each with one or two youth apprentices, one musher/instructor/workshop coordinator and seven skidoo support drivers/instructors. Approximately 20 youth participated during the entire four weeks. Seven youth participants rotated through the workshop for one or two weeks at a time. Some mushers got new youth every week. Other mushers stayed with the same youth the whole time. The mushers, skidoo drivers and coordinators often changed over the course of the workshop, usually depending on the length of the workshop.
The purpose of the Qimmivut workshop is to provide an opportunity for participants to share cultural skills, knowledge and values. The workshop promotes mental, spiritual and physical well-being, and validates and transfers Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) - the body of knowledge and unique cultural insights of Inuit into the workings of nature, humans and animals; closer to Inuit ways of thinking and being - associated with Inuit societal values, hunting, traveling, working with dogs, camping, and being on the land.
This is an annual workshop that Ilisaqsivik has been organizing for the past five years. The workshop allows youth and young adults to be out on the land with recognized hunters, dog team owners and Elders. The purpose of this trip is to reaffirm and teach IQ, as well as promote the development of mentoring relationships between Elders, adults and youth. Traveling by dog team provides an excellent opportunity to transfer IQ around practical navigation, travel, camping, tool making and harvesting skills, as well as social values related to principals that include:
Fish and other country foods gathered during the trip are passed out to community members after the group returns. This trip is an excellent way to combine the promotion of healthy living and wellness with the promotion of cultural knowledge and activities.
Checking the seal net. photo: David Iqaqrialu
Workshop time is planned each day of the trip. The group stays in cabins at Arviqtujuq and Majuallaruluk providing a space to meet in the evenings and talk. Workshop time also occurs outside, through group discussions on the land or ice and, most importantly, through direct, hands on experiences.
The following is a list of topics that were addressed during the workshop:
· Caring for and feeding dogs
· History of dogs in our community
· Social, economic, and cultural significance of dogs
· How to make harnesses, leads, whips and backpacks
· Relationship with the land
· Relationship between oneself and social group
· Value of hard work and team work
· Respect for each other
· Respect for oneself
*Incorporated in 1997, Ilisaqsivik Society is a non-profit, community-based Inuit organization in Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada dedicated to promoting community wellness in ways that maintain respect for traditional Inuit teachings and learning, and are accountable to the community. Ilisaqsivik offers a wide range of community-based programs that support the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of all community residents from infants to Elders. For more information about Ilisaqsivik or the Qimmivut workshops please contact Jakob Gearheard, Executive Director, Ilisaqsivik Society/Ittaq Heritage and Research Centre, P.O. Box 150, Clyde River, NU X0A0E0 or firstname.lastname@example.org.