Jim Arreak’s first polar bear

Eleven-year-old Jim Arreak of Clyde River got his first polar bear last weekend.



CLYDE RIVER — It was dark and the bear was on the ice edge.

“The polar bear was on the thin ice in the middle of the bay. I was watching with binoculars. I talked to them on the C.B. and told them,” says Martha Arreak.

Eleven-year-old Jim Arreak, his father James, and his uncle were coming into the bay with the boat when the call came across the C.B. radio.

Without hesitating, Jim Arreak grabbed the .308 rifle he had been using to hunt seals earlier in the day, and became the fourteenth Clyde River resident to kill a polar bear this hunting season.

He shot the bear twice — first on the the shoulder blades, then, after the bear jumped into the water, he shot lower on the bear’s side and killed it.

“When the boat started to go near the bear, he started runing back and forth along the edge of the ice,” says Arreak, explaining what happened for her son.

Jim was too shy to say what happened by himself. Occasionally the copper-haired boy would correct his mother’s recounting of the tale. However, he beams when asked if he will pose for a photo next to the bear.

Jim grimaces when his mother points to a tiny, barely noticeable bruise between his eyebrows. The bruise, she explains, is from the gun kicking back and hitting him.

But he seems to get over it. After all, he got his first polar bear. One of his cousins was 15 when he got his first bear.

“Yup,” says Jim when asked if he’s excited. He seems to have trouble putting how he feels into words, whether speaking English or Inuktitut.

“He says he felt same as when he got his first caribou,” his mother says, translating for him from Inuktitut. He was nine when that happened.

Bears are more difficult to hunt than caribou, Jim says.

“They’re faster.”

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