The polar bear and narwhal hunting seasons are over for this year in Qikiqtarjuaq. Inuit people are the only one allowed to hunt those two species, following a very precise regulation. Only a few of those animals can be hunted each year and the hunters are designated by drawing lots. A conservation officer, who came on board, makes sure the rules are respected. The meat which feeds the community is shared among its members, the skin is recycled into mittens, boots or sometimes sold. Nothing is wasted when it comes from the animal. This subsistence hunt is fully part of the inuit culture, it is based on an immense knowledge of the available ressources and it is done respecting the land and the environment that have fed them for thousands of years. In fact, no one should make fun of the polar bear, they hear everything!
As they caught the last narwhal and butchered the last polar bear, there are less boats going back and forth in the bay, the engines are now silent, only few more hunters looking for seals. Some unsuccessful hunters are coming on board Vagabond for a little break, to enjoy our tea or coffee that have now an excellent reputation in town. It is a great opportunity to chat a bit. Friendship is quite easy, we already spent time with a few families in the village, each of them very nicely inviting us for a shower, a coffee, or just for sharing a moment… People are telling us how families from Kivitoo and from Padloping Island have been moved here in order to build the Fox-5 DEW Line station and therefore create Qikiqtarjuaq in the fifties. Some of them keep very bitter and vivid memories of that relocation, blaming the government for burning their houses and killing their dogs. In this new village, they had to recreate everything from scratch, organise themselves for their groceries by doing trips to Pangnirtung with dog-sleds, an epic journey through the famous Pang Pass that was taking several days.
Meanwhile, there are more and more polar bear tracks on the shore close to the boat. During one of our walks, we saw briefly a young male feeding on a narwhal carcass. November will be their month, simultaneously with the sea ice formation and the beginning of the polar night. The sun is not high in the sky any more (less than 10° above the horizon), offering us some amazing grazing lights on the top of the mountains. Qikiqtarjuaq is getting ready for the winter.