Nauttiqsuqtiit delivers Grise Fiord its patrol boat

Boat is part of a program to ensure Inuit stewardship of Tallurutiup Imanga

Nauttiqsuqtiit patrol boats on the water. A patrol drove up to Grise Fiord from Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet to deliver a boat to Grise Fiord. (Photo by Niore Iqalukjuak)

By David Lochead

Grise Fiord has a new patrol boat.

The boat arrived Monday as part of a fleet of four, carrying 10 people. Hamlet residents celebrated its arrival with a feast of maktaaq, bannock and seal meat.

“Everyone was in awe,” said Laisa Audlaluk-Watsko, supervisor for Nauttiqsuqtiit, a program that gives Inuit in the High Arctic the chance to become environmental stewards and harvesters.

“It was exciting.”

Nauttiqsuqtiit is run through the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

Inuit who participate in the program are the “eyes and ears” of protected areas around Grise Fiord, Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay, such as the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area. The program was expanded to Sanikiluaq last year.

Grise Fiord has been part of the program since 2018. While the Grise Fiord Nauttiqsuqtiit members previously did have use of a boat, that one was smaller.

“This is absolutely new to us,” Audlaluk-Watsko said of the 23 Silver Dolphin hunting and harvesting boat, which was purchased two years ago and was in use in Pond Inlet before its arrival to Grise Fiord.

Now that it’s in the hamlet, the boat will be used to monitor nearby waters, harvest food, deliver cabin materials, and take elders to campsites.

It can also participate in future search and rescue missions, says Audlaluk-Watsko.

Getting the boat to Grise Fiord was a challenge. With ice blocking the sea channels between Pond Inlet and Grise Fiord in parts of the spring and summer, the group had to co-ordinate the best time to make the journey.

The boaters estimated they had two or three days to make the trip and back before the ice made traversing difficult.

Now the boat is in the hamlet, both Audlaluk-Watsko and Grise Fiord’s senior administrative officer Marty Kuluguqtuq hope that a boating trip between Grise Fiord and other High Arctic communities can happen again.

“It’s something to look forward to and we’re proud to be a part of,” Kuluguqtuq said.

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