Two cultures, one journey
Inuit and Naskapi Junior Rangers make friends, share cultures
Fishing and fellowship were the highlights of a unique get-together between Inuit and Naskapi Junior Rangers who, earlier this month, camped mid-way between Kuujjuaq and Kawawachikamach.
“It was a fun experience,” said Leah Grey, 13, a Junior Ranger from Kuujjuaq who learned to fish the Naskapi way and even how to say a few useful expressions in the Naskapi language.
The trip took the 13 participants from Kuujjuaq — a total of eight Junior Rangers and five Rangers and elders — three and a half days by snowmobile.
“We came from the North, they came from the South. We met at Lake Romanet, about 250 km. south of Kuujjuaq,” said Capt. Daniel Lamoureux from the 2nd Canadian Rangers Patrol from St-Jean, who accompanied the group from Kuujjuaq.
The southbound snowmobile trail headed directly into the tree-line — and it wasn’t groomed, which made the going hard.
“It was rough. The trail isn’t used every day. In fact, it’s rare that it’s used,” Lamoureux said. “We had two objectives — we wanted them to have a challenge, to accomplish a trip that was challenging, and also to make a link between the two communities.”
At Lake Romanet, the two groups camped together for four days. Those from Kuujjuaq included Johnny Gordon Sr. as elder and guide, and the following Canadian Rangers: Sandy Gordon Jr., Norman Grist, Norman Cooper, Sara Berthe, and Junior Rangers, May Ningiuruvik, Dolly Mesher, Sylvia Johannes, Darlene David, Leah Grey, Henry Angnatuk, Harry Gordon and Junior Angma.
“The first day we made an emergency landing strip as Rangers often do. A single-engined Otter landed four times on the strip. The Junior Rangers were very happy with what they accomplished, and they saw it could really be used,” Lamoureux said.
The Naskapis brought along eight Junior Rangers and 10 elders and Rangers.
During the camp, the two groups learned land skills from each other.
“They did ice fishing, according to Inuit and Naskapi methods, and they learned from each other,” Lamoureux said. “It was really a cultural exchange.”
English was used by the two groups to speak to each other, although, like Leah, they were interested to pick up useful expressions, such as “my friend,” in each other’s language.
“The kids loved it. They found it a bit hard in the beginning, especially coming down, but once they got there they became a united group right away. It shows that young people are young people not matter where they’re from,” Lamoureux said.
“Bonds were formed between the youth that will last. When we were ready to leave, they decided this trail would be used in the future. They all agreed that it was an activity worth doing and it should be repeated.”
But it may take a couple of years before the Junior Rangers group from Kuujjuaq will be able to tackle such a major project again.
“With the price tag that’s on it, it isn’t going to be a regular thing,” said Craig Lingard, one of the Junior Rangers’ leaders in Kuujjuaq. “My budget going into it, from our end, was $20,000, and it was a fair bit of organizing. We’ve done fundraising in the past, so some of that money that was left over was used specifically for this. It was all funded locally.”
Nayumivik Landholding Corporation, Societe Kuujjuammiut Inc., Makivik Corporation, the Northern Village of Kuujjuaq’s land skills program and Johnny May’s Air Charters contributed money and services, as did the 2nd Canadian Rangers Patrol.
The Junior Rangers who participated in the camp were all from Kuujjuaq’s patrol, which started up in the mid-1990s and is, along with Puvirnituq, among the first to form in Nunavik.