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Happy Tenth Anniversary, ISDI
Inuit Dog OwnerÖ.
Photo: AnnanackRosie and Lucas Etok beamed with pride as they watched their son, Leevan, on the stage during the spring graduation ceremony. They had many reasons to be proud of their son who had grown into a fine young man. Leevan was graduating after completing five years in IPL (Individual Path of Learning), a special program for secondary students who have trouble in the regular academic stream. Under the guidance of his expert teacher, Daniel Annanack, Leevan learned to live on the land, to hunt and fish, to carve artworks from caribou antlers, to build traditional tools, and most importantly to run a dog team.
by Mark Brazeau
Rosie and Lucas lived very different lives from their son. Lucas was born in a tent on the Korac River. Before settling in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, he and his family migrated up and down the Korac following the wildlife with their team of dogs. Lucas fondly recalls accompanying his father to get supplies at a trading post in Hebron, Labrador when he was around six years old. Rosie grew up in Nain, Labrador, where her family also had a dog team. Rosie remembers being very excited when her father would return from caribou hunting with the qamutiq full of meat. Leevan, on the other hand, was born in a hospital in Kuujjuaq and raised in the settled community of Kangiqsualujjuaq. He learned to hunt and fish on weekends but had to attend school from Monday to Friday. Leevan had only known the snowmobile. Dog teams were history before he was even born.
Joewillie accompanies Leevan and his team on a run out to the tent. Owned by the IPL program,During his elementary years, school did not agree with Leevan. He did not like being confined to a desk in a classroom and admits to being confrontational with his teachers. Even from a young age, Leevan preferred to be outdoors camping and hunting. More often than not, Leevan skipped classes and his overall attendance was very poor. Leevanís mother had assumed that he would eventually drop out of school entirely when he reached the older grades.
the tent, set up about 10 km (6.2 mi) out of town, is used for IPL activities, by classes on IPL
excursions, daycare and anyone who will replace the firewood they use in the tent's woodstove.
When Daniel began working at the school as the IPL teacher, everything changed. In his Inuktitut mother tongue, Daniel taught activities related to traditional Inuit culture. As a result, Leevan returned to school, attended regularly and became a model student. He showed a very keen interest in Danielís dogs and eventually started his own dog team - the only student to do so. Leevan began with three dogs (offspring of our first pure Inuit Dogs from Linda Frederickson) and now has eight.
Leevan assists the Grade 7 French students while guidingAs an older student, Leevan took pride in guiding younger students on dog sled excursions. Leevan also accompanied Daniel as his race partner for the 2007 Ivakkak. As a guide and a racer, Leevan has become a bit of a celebrity in Kangiqsualujjuaq. More important than his celebrity status is the fact that he is a role model and a unique success story, in part as a result of Qimmiit Utirtut.
a school expedition Photo: Annanack
Given that the primary goal of Qimmiit Utirtut is to revive traditional mushing and the Inuit Dog, it would be fair to say that Leevan is the cover boy for the project. Leevanís story is especially unique because unlike many mushers in Nunavik, Leevan and his family do not own a snowmobile. Leevan is not mushing dogs for the purpose of tourism, racing or as a hobby. His dogs are his only mode of transportation and mushing has become his way of life. Leevan uses his dog team to hunt ptarmigan, seals and other wildlife. He uses his dogs to transport freshwater ice blocks because his family prefers not to drink the treated tap water. On one occasion, Leevan and three of his dogs even towed a hunter and his broken snowmobile back to town.
Providing for his family and dogs. Photo: BrazeauLeevanís parents are extremely proud of him and they admire his commitment to owning a dog team. Lucas enjoys working with Leevan and teaching him what he knows about mushing. Rosie shared how she enjoyed traveling with the dogs to their goose hunting blind with Leevan and her grandchildren. It reminded her of when she went with her father as a young girl.
Now that Leevan has finished school, some things will change but a lot will stay the same. He will continue to take the younger students out on excursions, but as guide hired by the school instead of a student-in-training. He will also likely spend a lot of time hunting and fishing with his dogs, but now he can go out any day of the week instead of waiting for the weekends. Above all else, he will continue to be a role model for young people and will continue to make his parents proud.
Teacher and student partner up for the Ivakkak. Photo: Isabelle Dubois