Etua Snowball holds his newly released children’s book, called “My Pet Hawk.” In it, he recounts a story from his childhood where he befriended a hawk during the summer. (Photo courtesy of Malaya Qaunirq Chapman)

Nunavik man befriends hawk, writes children’s book about it

‘My Pet Hawk’ is Etua Snowball’s latest work

By Cedric Gallant
Special to Nunatsiaq News

An unlikely animal friendship is the inspiration for Etua Snowball’s newest children’s book, My Pet Hawk.

“I came across a lot of animals in my lifetime,” Snowball said, in a phone interview, “and I always told the stories to my kids as they were growing up.”

With that in mind, he decided to write down his stories to keep them alive for his grandchildren.

The tales are based upon Snowball’s experiences living in hunting and fishing camps that his father owned when he was younger.

“My father had tourist camps for Americans, Europeans, when they came for Arctic char fishing,” Snowball said.

In these camps, he would experience nature in its purest form, encountering a wide variety of animals.

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The story of My Pet Hawk begins in Snowball’s early teens.

“One day, I saw a hawk flying up in the air,” he said. “I saw it fly down and scoop up a lemming. It just caught my attention, and he was just amazing to me at the time.”

The hawk’s majesty and grace amazed young Snowball, enough to make him want to grow a relationship with that very same bird.

But the process of growing a relationship with a wild animal was far from easy.

“I had to learn what it wants and what it eats,” he said. “It is a very different experience, but it is something I still treasure to this day.”

The friendship, which is detailed in the book, lasted the summer.

While My Pet Hawk is the story of Snowball’s relationship with a hawk, it also carries a larger lesson about the relationship between animals and humans.

“My learning experience told me that everything eventually leaves,” he said. “You might have a pet, but it might leave you one day.”

Just like in the book, “it says that the hawk went back to its family, and it became a wild animal again.

“Even though you had the animal, you raised it and you taught it, it is still a wild animal regardless,” he said.

Snowball said he believed for a time that it was normal for people to make friends with animals.

“Later, I realized that most people don’t experience this type of friendship,” he said.

Snowball said more books recounting his experiences as a young man living in camps are coming.

“I made friends with a wolf pup as well, and that book is in the making right now,” he said, adding he’s also cooking up a story about a friendship he struck with a caribou.

My Pet Hawk is available through Inhabit Education Books.


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