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Helen Tologanak Navalik
Norwegian divers eager to share stories of Baymaud

with Navalik Tologanak
Guest columnist
Monday, August 15, 2011

Previous columns 

Welcome to the Northwest Passage in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. The ice has finally gone for a few months as of end of July, it seems late again this year but now everyone is happy to be boating again, and to continue to fish and camp and travel the nuna and beautiful waters of our homeland, the Northwest Passage. I was reminded about the Northwest Passage by a couple of Norwegians who are visiting Cambridge Bay to come and survey the boat "The Maud."

It has been quite busy with people travelling by boat to the mainland to Bay Chimo, Bathurst Inlet, Wellington Bay, Foggy Bay and many other camps where they go hunting and fishing and also some of their ancestral homelands. Everyone is waiting for the fish to begin running at Gravel Pit to set their nets out and also to cast their fishing rods for Arctic char.

For those camping out at mainland area, they have been getting caribou, berry-picking is also popular out there, so hopefully everyone is enjoying the last bit of summer. We seem to have short summers lately, due to climate change. maybe, but Inuit always enjoy when the snow and ice is gone. They get very busy being out on the land, and this has continued for many, many years, and will hopefully continue for many more thousands of years to come.

Our ancestors set the way and made this our home and we are so lucky as Inuit to have this as our homeland and we are very proud of it. In today's world, many ways have changed, with non-Inuit moving into the smaller communities, things begin to change, but we must continue to speak our ancestors' language, Innuinaktut, and to try continue the traditional and cultural ways we as Inuit grew up. Hunting, fishing, our diets, sewing, language, clothing, and that way of life is important to carry on. It is hard for many of us who are losing some of our ways of our ancestors. Be proud of who you are and do not be shameful if you are unable to understand the tradition and culture. You can learn from others and from our elders, who someday will not be here to teach us, so take hold of it and learn it, it is there for you with open arms welcoming you. Let us work together to keep our culture and tradition going strong and ask and do not be shy or ashamed. It is natural part of our lives, of who we are as Inuit.

Time for school

School time once again in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 9 a.m. for both Kullik Ilihakvik Elementary and Kiilinik High Schools. We hope everyone had a great summer break and that you are all ready for school. Time for kids to go to bed early and get up early for some learning and fun at school, meet some new friends, new teachers, and many have the same school classmates. It will be a special occasion for all those younger children who are just beginning kindergarten. It will be the first day of school for many of them; they will be shy and will need their parent's support, so make sure to be there for our little children. Good luck to all our school students and their teachers and principals, have a great year, we will be there for you all.

From Norway to the Northwest Passage, please welcome two Norwegians Jan Wanggaard and Dag Hansen who have travelled from their homeland to Cambridge Bay to see the ship "Maud" once owned by Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer. They have come to collect data and survey the old ship that has been sitting in the Bay for 80 years ago. The Maud was named after Norway's Queen Maud and King Haakon sponsored with the building of this great old ship.

Their equipment for diving did not arrive till this past week, and now they are diving daily, filming and photographing the boat which was made of oak wood, very strong. The sun helps gives light for the cameras. The filming, photographs, data collection of the Maud will help the Norwegians see what condition it is in after sitting in the water.

They said it is in pretty good condition with the cold and clean waters of the Arctic waters. The part of the ship that is visible is damaged a little from ice and also from our ancestors needing to use some of the wood for building material or for firewood to help survive in the old days.

Once the survey is complete, they will better understand and be able to see if it is possible to move and lift the Maud to bring it back to Norway to the Maud Museum in Vollen, Norway, where it was built 100 years ago. Jan and Dag were invited to speak to the Cambridge Bay hamlet council about the project of bringing the Maud home to Norway. They felt there were mixed feelings about keeping it here in Cambridge Bay and there was also support for them to bring it home to Norway.

Worried about damage

Mayor Syd Glawson was worried that it might get damaged when trying to salvage and lift the Maud, but the Norwegians said they will do their best to not make it suffer in any way. The plan is to bring the Maud home by barge if possible, and the Norwegians feel very positive about this project.They said the project means a lot to the people of Norway, as Roald Amundsen - an explorer who set out to be the first to reach the North Pole - is a national icon.

There is also a petition and a local group of residents in support of keeping the Maud here in Cambridge Bay. There has been a lot of interest for and against this project. Whichever way this project goes, the Norwegians said they will remain positive and are willing to speak with anyone about their thoughts on this, and they welcome people to go see them at the shipwreck across the Bay by Anavilok's campsite. We wish everyone good luck in this project.

The Norwegians visited with some of the elders down at Gravel Pit, Akolaitgok, to show photographs and stories of the Maud and Roald Amundsen.

Many remember very little about the ship and Amundsen's visit to Cambridge Bay area, as it was many, many years ago, when many were not yet born, but the stories continue about the Maud, from our ancestors to their people of the Cambridge bay area. It will be interesting to listen and have a good meeting with the Norwegians and to see the films and photographs and hear stories of the Norwegians and Amundsen and his crew.

Take care everyone, enjoy the last bit of summer, soon fall time will be here once again and it will get cooler. It will be busy once again when the barges and ships come into our little harbour.

God be with you, son, we miss you dearly everyday. Felix has been out camping with his Papa Murphy and Nana Rosie and Sam for the past couple of weeks, good luck to them and be safe. Big hello to a dear friend, Kristine in Taloyoak - so happy for you and the family. God bless.