My Little Corner of Canada, March 27

The Secrets of the Arctic


To most Canadians, the Arctic is still a mysterious place. Only a small percentage of Canadians have ever travelled to or worked up here.

Even those who have experienced living and working here rarely venture outside of the community where they work. Some of them do travel the land during the warm months of spring and summer. A few brave souls do challenge the Arctic during the darkest and coldest periods.

The number of Inuit who have truly experienced the Arctic year round is dwindling. The generation of those who know the intimate secrets of the Arctic grow smaller with each passing year.

Inuit of the older generation do not share their knowledge openly with the outside world. They tell their stories to a small circle of friends and family. They are reluctant to tell their stories to people who may not believe them or who might accuse them of embellishing their experiences.

There are consistent stories of encountering “the small people,” Big Foot, mermen and mermaids, shape-shifters, and giant birds strong enough to grab and carry away young caribou.

These stories are not restricted to one region or territory. Similar accounts are told throughout the circumpolar region.

Stories of sightings of the little people seem to be the most common. The most recent sightings of Big Foot have been reported in Nunavik. The most recent sightings of mermen were reported from the Cape Dorset area.

The most eerie stories are about shape-shifters who change from human forms to animals and from one animal species to another.

These stories do not come from loonies or spaced out teenagers. They come from ordinary members of the community.

Many hunters have also found many other interesting things. But they are not telling. If they did, they say, others will come and take them away.


Inuit have the most interesting traditional names in Canada. For a long time Inuit were drifting away from their ancestral names and started naming their children Tom, Dick, or Sally (no offense.)

Now, we need to drift back to naming our children that reflect our environment, our view of the world, the human condition, our language, and our ancestors.

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