James “Taalualuk” Houston a life-saver in Inukjuak


I remember James Houston, in Inukjuak, better known as Port Harrison at the time, in 1948-49 when he was here with his wife. I think he was working with the federal government and he was teaching Inuit how to carve soapstone and teaching Inuit women basket weaving.

Many people did not know how to carve, and it was the very first time that people started carving and women started basket weaving. He also bought all of the carvings and baskets to take with him once he left for the South.

I remember my father and other Inuit people taught him how to speak Inuttitut. James Houston gave lots of help to the people of Inukjuak even after he returned because after they were able sell carvings and straw baskets to Hudson’s Bay Company.

Many people in Inukjuak remember him as Taalualuk (Big Chin) because he had a long chin. He had to teach the Inuit in tents and at church because at that time we had very few houses in Inukjuak.

When people talked about him after they found out that died, they said he was a life saver because people were able to trade with baskets and carvings to buy food for their families. Our condolences to family of Taalualuk.

Johnny Williams

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