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Nunavut has reached its 21st year as a recognized territory but the land, the people and their customs and traditions have a much longer history.

From east to west, Nunavummiut are celebrating Nunavut Day on July 9. Here are the thoughts of some of your relatives, friends and neighbours as they reflect on what Nunavut means to them.

 

Dominique Qayaqsaaq of Kugaaruk

Dominique Qayaqsaaq, Kugaaruk

“For Nunavut Day, I would love to say thanks to every Inuit for living their way of life. Nunavut Day for me is celebrating happiness, for sharing love, care, laughter and respect for all people. Nunavut Day isn’t just for Inuit, it’s for every person that is living in Nunavut. In the future, I would love to see youth coming up with activities, going for hikes, asking elders about when there was no houses, no stores, etc; how they use to live back then.”

 

Andrea Niptanatiak, Kugluktuk

Andrea Niptanatiak of Kugluktuk

“Nunavut is a very special, very unique place. It’s home to many and we wouldn’t have it any other way. With Nunavut being our home, and Nunavut meaning ‘our land,’ we’ve had the privilege to live and learn from our Elders and our ancestors and have been taught a very special way of living: to help, to hunt, to fish, to provide for our families and also give as much as you can to others.

“Elders were always brought meat first, especially to those that couldn’t go out on the land on their own. What I’ve always been amazed at is how much we all care for one another, how much we can come together when we really need to!

Changes I’d like to see in Nunavut are more hands-on tools, one-to-one action being taken forward for better mental health and physical well-being, more programs and what not. I think that’s what Nunavut lacks the most.”

 

Jessie Kaludjak of Arviat

Jessie Kaludjak, Arviat

“Nunavut Day: Inuktigut pigigaptigu mianiritsiarlavut.

“We can never go back in time, but we can surely learn from the past and use what we’ve learned for centuries. Change is inevitable. We have always adapted to change whether it’s gradual or drastic. Resilience is in our blood.

“Let’s keep educating ourselves and our future generations so that we can nurture and maintain what is given to us so that our culture will always flourish. No one knows our culture better then we do, we must maintain it.

“There is no place like home.”

 

Nathan Kaosoni, Cambridge Bay

Nathan Kaosoni,of Cambridge Bay

“Nunavut Day is the day we celebrate our wide-open land for miles and miles. Inuit lived on this land for many decades – hunting, fishing, gathering with their families and friends. They loved being out on the land doing what we are meant to do: find and feed, get fur.

“Myself, as a Inuit person, I’m proud to live up in the great North. I take my family out camping, hunting, fishing. They just love it out there, even if there’s no TV around they will find something to do – run around the camp, the cabin, just being out there is a relief for our spirit and soul. To be out looking at the land, making memories, it’s mesmerizing how our ancestors would live out on the land. Accept things change and people respect one another, you will live a happy life with your family and friends.

“For myself, I am always out in the land before Nunavut Day. I am a commercial fisherman for Arctic char and am always out by July 8 or 7 to go spend Nunavut Day at my fish camp setting lots of fish nets, making dry fish, cooking some fish – whatever we can catch that day we cook and eat, and celebrate our land of opportunity and openness. I love it.”

 

April Anowtalik, Arviat

April Anowtalik of Arviat (pictured with husband Andy)

“Nunavut means our land. I think what makes Nunavut special is that we get to keep our culture and the language that we speak. Most of all, the reason is that our Elders are here for us to keep the tradition alive.

“We Inuit can watch and learn and as we listen, we Nunavutmiut are capable of keeping the tradition alive. These days, our children are our future generation and if we teach the kids, we will not lose our culture. Education is the key – keep pushing our children to school. We have to keep the circle strong because Nunavut is a special place to live in.

“Each community needs more mental health as we are growing each year and a lot of people struggle at home with verbal and emotional abuse, but I know we can change that. I would love to see more organizations for traditional knowledge and land skills for youths. Nunavut is our land and I am proud to say I am from Nunavut. I love the land that we live in.”

 

Ann Kalluk of Baker Lake

Ann Kalluk, Baker Lake

“It is important to keep our culture alive; show different parts of the world how we Inuit live, what material we use to make clothes (mainly from caribou skin, seal skin and polar bear skin, if you’re from the coastal area).”

 

Enoo Bell of Kinngait

Enoo Bell, Kinngait

“Well, I think it is for the better young students (are) getting high-profile jobs – and hamburger and hotdogs, LOL.We have come a long way but still a long way to go.”

 

Hailey Nalungiaq of Gjoa Haven

Hailey Nalungiaq, Gjoa Haven

“Nunavut Day means to me celebrating of our own territory and remembering everyone that fought for our rights.”

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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