George Berthe prepares a feast of freshly caught arctic char and mattaaq (beluga), mattaaq sausage (beluga sausage prepared from beluga intestines filled with the beluga skin and fat), smoked fish and pitsik (dried fish) on his boat on July 29. (Photo courtesy of Larissa Annahatak Aitchison)

Summer fun in Kuujjuaq

“We are so blessed to live in such natural splendour”

By Malaya Qaunirq Chapman
Special to Nunatsiaq News

KUUJJUAQ—With temperatures reaching up to 27 C, Kuujjuammiut have been having a beautiful hot summer.

The weather is often unpredictable here, so residents say they are feeling lucky with such warm weather. Average temperatures have been steady in the twenties, with periods of refreshing rain.

Larissa Annahatak Aitchison works for a locally owned store called Tullik, and she said they couldn’t keep their fans and air conditioners in stock.

“Our air conditioners and assorted fans sold out in no time!”

Judy Gordon, who just moved back to her home community after living in the south for 12 years, said, “I can’t sleep when I am hot, and a fan blowing hot air around doesn’t help. After living down south for 12 years and … having the option to be comfortable on a hot day in my own house, I had no choice [but] to buy an air conditioner when I came up.”

And with hot weather comes fun, with families spending time on their boats, picking berries, and heading to the beach.

Larissa and her partner George Berthe have been taking full advantage of the beautiful weather, taking their boat northwest up the Ungava Bay coast to Kangirsuk to visit friends and family. They enjoyed a gorgeous lunch under the hot sun there on July 29.

Robert Watt is preparing a delicious cheesecake to be topped with simmered aqpik. (Photo courtesy of Robert Watt)

“It was a great trip with our friends. Kangirsummiut are so welcoming! The land there is absolutely beautiful, and the fishing was phenomenal! After our first morning of fishing, we tied up three boats together and enjoyed a delicious lunch with freshly caught Arctic char along with the finest of our regional sea foods. We are so blessed to live in such natural splendour,” said Aitchison.

With the rest of the world under the threat of COVID-19, Kuujjuaq has managed to stay free of the virus, which has kept community members feeling safe enough to gather at the beach. But people are taking precautions and wearing masks in public spaces if space is limited. This is especially important for the small children and elders in our community.

Melinda Gadbois loves to take her three daughters and her son to the beach to enjoy the water and some delicious food. They’ve been spending time outdoors as much as possible.

“We’ve been enjoying the hot weather after such a long winter and isolation period. To beat the heat, we’ve been cooling off by going for boat rides and going to the beach, also eating frozen country food. We like the heat if it’s not too unbearable; it’s nice for a couple weeks a year but we’re looking forward to the beautiful fall weather.”

Kuujjuaq is known for its delicious aqpik berries (salmon berries). And the nuna has plenty, and, in another week, the fruit will be ripe and ready. Robert Watt, who takes full advantage of this season, has wasted no time and has started picking the few berries that are ready. He is a baker who makes delicious desserts with the berries he’s picked. Watt said he’s enjoyed being on the calming, refreshing land.

“Walked, munched and picked about four cups today. Aqpiks are still growing. Found a healthy field of aqpiks. Score! Barely open but all red big ones. Won’t be ready for another week.”

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