Cross-country trek show of strength for Baffin family

Akavak clan to make the trip from Kimmirut with help from friends, well-wishers



­A seven-year-old girl plans to walk 100 miles next week in the name of family unity.

Inuusiq Akavak is making the trek from Kimmirut to Iqaluit with her father Moosa, her mother Pitsiula, and four siblings, to show that a strong family is essential for healthy communities.

“We’re going to take our time and care for each other,” said Pitsiula Akavak said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time together.”

Akavak, chairperson of the Iqaluit-based community wellness planning group Illitiit, said she and her husband talked many times about making the trip. After a commuity wellness conference in Iqaluit last November they finally decided to do it.

“Families need to be strong,” she said. “It has to start with us first.”

Abuse victim

A victim of abuse, Akavak turned to her husband and children for the strength to begin to heal from her pain. She understands the importance of a strong family.

“The family is the place where we can work together to prevent and deal with such problem as family violence, drug and alcohol abuse and sexual abuse,” she said. “It is because of these things that we need to strengthen the family so we can avoid suicide, criminal behaviour and violence.”

The Akavaks will leave Iqaluit on Friday by snowmobile, dropping off supplies at shelters along the way to Kimmirut. They’ll leave Kimmirut on foot for the six-day return trip.

Inuusiq and her nine-year-old brother Jamie had the option of spending the week with relatives, but they choose to go with the family.

“They were very determined to come with us,” Akavak said.

Their 25-year-old son, Jonah, 21-year-old son, Joshua and 14-year-old daughter, Lena, will also make the trip.

Two dogs will pull a child-sized komatiq while the rest of the family will pull a larger sled filled with supplies.

Snow houses at night

If the snow is good, the family will build igloos. If not, they’ll lodge in one of the cabins along the trail. They’ll bring food, but they’ll also hunt ptarmigan and caribou.

At night they’ll light a Qulliq, or stone seal-oil lamp, for warmth.

As a family the Akavaks have been out on the land before. The hardest part of this trek will be making it around the Soper River, which starts to run this time of the year.

“That’s the one thing we’re kind of worried about, but if we can make it to the top things should get easier.”

Akavak said her family has received encouragement, support and supplies from people across Baffin. She said three women are also helping her sew parkas and pants for the family.

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