My Little Corner of Canada: Joanasie’s huskies


Joanasie pressed his forehead against the window of the airplane and looked down on the sea ice below.

It was late June but the sea ice of the High Arctic was still solid except for open leads.

“I’ll be travelling on that tonight,” he thought to himself.

Joanasie had left home almost a year ago to go to school and was now returning. He looked forward to seeing his family and his three dogs.

His father had given him the three dogs on his fourteenth birthday. He could hardly wait to harness up Kayuq, Nasalik and Kamelik and take off across the spring ice. He prayed that they would still remember him as their master.

The airplane started to descend and Joanasie came back from his thoughts and buckled up. His friend Sam, who was sitting next to him, was excited as the small community came into sight in the distance.

The plane flew directly over the community as it approached the landing strip a few miles away. He could see the familiar yellow truck leaving the community on the road to the strip. The truck was just arriving as the plane came to a stop near the small airport terminal.

Lloyd MacKenzie, the school teacher, greeted the six students as they climbed down off the plane. After collecting their luggage, they all climbed into the yellow truck and took off for home.

Joanasie felt happy, shy and excited as they arrived in the community. His family came out of their small house as the truck stopped in front. His little brother grabbed his leg as soon as he got out of the truck. His mother came up to him and kissed him on the cheek. His father greeted him and shook his hand.

Joanasie took his bags to his small room and came back into the family area.

“How are my dogs?” he asked, looking at his mother.

His mother looked at him and didn’t say anything. She looked in the direction of Joanasie’s father.

“What happened to them?” Joanasie asked.

His father hesitated for a moment and then answered.

“The RCMP shot them all last week.”

Joanasie felt a rush of anger rush through his body.

“Why?” he asked.

“They said they had to get rid of all dogs who had no owners,” his father answered.

“But they belonged to me,” Joanasie protested.

“We tried to tell them that but they said a 14-year-old boy could not be responsible for huskies,” his father said.

“I told them that I was looking after them for you but they said they had been given orders from their bosses to get rid of all extra dogs. I even got angry with them but they didn’t pay any attention.”

Joanasie felt numb. He was sad and angry. He went to his room and closed the door. He sat down on his bed and wept.

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