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Happy Tenth Anniversary, ISDI
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Ten years! It was just ten years ago in September, 1997 that Sue and Mark Hamilton and Geneviève Montcombroux met at Paul Schurke's Wintergreen Lodge, Ely, Minnesota, to establish the ISDI. During the whole of the previous year Geneviève had exchanged correspondence with Sue and this meeting of soul sisters was the culmination of their ideas and enthusiasm. The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) took over from the earlier Friends of the Canadian Inuit Dog, a loose association of ISD mushers and enthusiasts that Geneviève founded in 1988.
Happy Tenth Anniversary, ISDI!
by Geneviève Montcombroux
The Friends of the Canadian Inuit Dog itself grew out of the Canadian Eskimo Dog Association (CEDA) after Geneviève broke away from the body she'd single-handedly revived, following disagreement over the latter's views and aspirations. In those primitive days, she believed that the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) could help ward off the extinction of the breed. That belief was quickly replaced by the cold reality that the opposite was in fact the case. A kennel club that focused on show dogs and show conformation was unsuited for this arctic breed of working dog. It was inevitable that those who considered shows and CKC breed registration detrimental to the survival of the ISD should be in opposition to the CEDA. Hence the Friends of the Canadian Inuit Dog came into being. Geneviève edited a newsletter in order to keep in touch with the supporters of the Canadian Inuit Dog as a working breed.
Meeting Sue Hamilton was a major turning point for the breed. Sue became the editor of The Fan Hitch newsletter that included a wealth of scientific and practical information, so much so that it became a journal.
1997 is also the year that the first edition of The Canadian Inuit Dog: Canada's Heritage written by Geneviève Montcombroux, was published. It is now in its second edition and, due to further developments of the ISD, the third edition is in preparation. In its first ten years, the Inuit Sled Dog International accomplished much educational work by raising public awareness of the breed, in assisting school students in their research projects, in the exchange of ideas and information by seasoned mushers and the mentoring of newbie mushers. Also in these years various breeders increased the numbers of pure dogs and maintained the distinct blood lines.
The ISDI was hoping to reach the Inuit communities in Nunavut and Nunavik. To that effect, Geneviève Montcombroux sent copies of The Canadian Inuit Dog: Canada's Heritage to all the schools and libraries in the Arctic. Sue and Mark Hamilton had reproduced, with the author's kind permission, Ken MacRury's thesis The Inuit Dog, Its Provenance, Environment and History and also donated, on behalf of the ISDI, bound copies of it to all schools and libraries in the North.
In 2004, a project of re-introduction of the ISD began to take shape in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik under the name Qimmiit Utirtut, meaning 'The Return of the Dogs.' Mark Brazeau, Daniel Annanack and Allen Gordon from Kuujjuaq poured their energies and resources into the project, which is now flourishing. Qimmiit Utirtut is now producing its own litters from foundation dogs provided by ISDI members. If proof is needed that cooperative efforts can foster the survival of the Inuit Sled Dog, it is right there in Nunavik.
Let's hope that over the next ten years we'll see similar projects spring up in Nunavut and that the ISDI will remain as the driving force in the revitalization of the Canadian Inuit Sled Dog.