Tues March 15
No specific plans for anything today…wander around town, take a few photos, stopping to talk to Negula, who always seems to be carving. Chips flying, his fur ruff is loaded with stone dust. Pitsiula is also wandering around outside houses, looking for small antler remnants. We chat and he invites us into his house to show us the carving he’s working on.
It’s a hunter, a stone Inuk, arm raised over his head, waiting to hurl a bone spear. It’s a marvel to me, how these stone figures, animals, birds, mythical beings emerge soft and fluid, silky from the green stone. Cool to the touch, polished and gleaming, this little 7” man will feed a family tonight.
We are invited to talk to some senior high school classes about guiding tour groups in the north. The kids are interested to know what it is like, what kinds of things they would have to do and maybe just to hear us talk. I would rather hear them talk more about what they would like to do! Instead, several precious hours are filled by our own blah blah blah. I’m bored listening to myself. Happily, the lecture is interrupted by Robert, the local economic development officer: we go over to his office and meet Sandy, the local RCMP and guide. Happily, I listen as they recount stories about life in the far north.
Later that evening, Pitsiula and Mattoo bring some of their carving over to Pascal’s house. George buys the now finished hunter as well as Mattoo’s kayak. The black stone kayak is complete down to the last detail, with tiny seal skin coiled ropes, wood paddle and even seal skin bladder bag. Mattoo explains the significance of each carefully constructed feature: I try to focus on his words but get lost in soft roll of his voice, poignant pauses, gentle laughter as he and Pitsiula confer, before answering our questions. I wonder what knowledge will be lost with the transition between stone age and computer age – hoping, that hunters and kayaks and stone will be able to share their secrets to those who are willing to see.