Participants and instructors prepare the boat for a day on the water in Ilitaqsiniq’s whale hunting course. The purpose was to give people who otherwise do not have the opportunity to hunt a whale the chance to get on the land and learn the basics of a hunt. (Photo courtesy of Ilitaqsiniq)

Whale hunting course hits the water in Rankin Inlet

Course teaches fundamentals of whale hunting and gives participants chance to get on land

By David Lochead

They didn’t catch a whale, but they did have a lot of fun.

Six people in Rankin Inlet are fresh from Ilitaqsiniq’s four-day whale hunting course, which gave them the chance to reconnect with the land and build relationships with other members of the community.

Ilitaqsiniq is a non-profit organization that offers culture-based programming for Nunavummiut.

“They really enjoyed it,” said program co-ordinator Amber Irwin.

The course ran from Aug. 28 to Aug. 31. Irwin said Ilitaqsiniq offered a similar course about two years ago.

With the high cost of whale-hunting materials, such as the cost of owning a boat, this course was intended for those who do not normally have the opportunity to go on such a trip.

The plan was to have two days on the water, but weather forced cancellation of one of the days.

“We didn’t catch any whales, but everyone enjoyed their time out on the water,” Irwin said.

Participants in Ilitaqsiniq’s whale hunting course also had the chance to prepare food using whale meat and blubber. Shown here is Ilitaqsiniq’s recipe for pickled maktaaq. (Image courtesy of Ilitaqsiniq)

On top of hunting for a whale, the program teaches on-the-land fundamentals such as boat and gun safety, how to properly pack for a hunting trip and preparing food for a trip.

Participants were also able to learn how to preserve whale meat. Because a whale was not caught on the trip, Ilitaqsiniq provided whale blubber and meat for participants to preserve.

They learned to make pickled maktaaq, which uses white vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, cloves, mustard seed, pepper, allspice and pickling spice, as well as a maktaaq salad.

By teaching skills such as how to pack and preserve food, Irwin said Ilitaqsiniq was trying to provide a well-rounded course.

“They’re still leaving with some skills that it takes to go out on a hunt, whether it be boating or on the land,” she said.

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by monty sling on

    Why can we just let the big whales flourish for now? Do we have to kill everything that moves out in the tundra and the Nunavut seas? If it’s a cultural thing, we the Inuit used to harvest what we need, big whale hunting appears to be a trophy hunting were whalers stand on top of the beast and scream Geronimo…Let the Bow Head Whales populate the Northern Waters. It’s good these guys got to know how hunting worked, let it be their personal knowledge…..

    • Posted by Qinalugaq not Arvik on

      So, this story is about hunting Beluga whales and not Bowhead. I get what you mean about ‘trophy hunting’ I don’t agree with that either.

  2. Posted by Untermensch on

    “Ilitaqsiniq is a non-profit organization that offers culture-based programming for Nunavummiut.”

    In reality Ilitaqsiniq is the Nunavut Literacy Council. According to the GN its mission is to
    “promote and support the literacy needs of Nunavummiut in the official languages of Nunavut”

    Nunatsiaq knows this because it came up the last time they wrote about the organization in July. See for yourself:
    Ilitaqsiniq sees positives midway through four-day workweek test | Nunatsiaq News

    As many noted at the time it appears this group uses its resources to do fun things under the pretense of doing “holistic, non-formal literacy” training. A cynic might say that is code for “we really just like to do cool stuff.”

    But maybe that is not fair?

    Perhaps someone from the organization can comment? Besides all the cool stuff, does Ilitaqsiniq do actual literacy training?

  3. Posted by Super shamou on

    We eat them, cheaper than store bought food and It’s healthier

  4. Posted by Northerner on

    Inuit will not stop hunting until the very last hunted species is dead and in their bellies. You can see it on baffin Island. They hunted the caribou off the island. Now they get 75 tags a year. Now they target walrus seals and other whales. Qitikmeot now has 1 tag a year per household for caribou. If only Inuit can stop hunting for atleast a year or two and wait til numbers rise up. But they will not stop hunting. Look at baffin Island. When bowhead hunting was banned, an elder for the sake of his longing for a taste of bowhead whale, broke the rule and faced charges. Inuit protest no mines! They should also protest no hunts!

    • Posted by Ginger ale on

      Its easy to tell that you don’t spend any time out on the land. The caribou tags started 10 to 15 years ago and the caribou have recovered significantly since than. Regarding hunting the walrus and whales, it seems like the same amount is being hunted each year. The bowhead whale ban was from the 1800s or 1900s, blame that on the whalers back in the day. Ps, they have recovered significantly since

      • Posted by Ginger got a spiked drink. on

        Hey Ginger ale, you just scored a point towards your low self esteem. Your comment is a northern classic to boost self low worth. If you are trying to refer to people not going on the land enough. You’ll have a big job today listed all the people around you that are choosing a shorten life of misery with drugs and alcohol, and most of them are spending time in the land inside a jail. Point your score board towards those.

    • Posted by true dat! on

      Unfortunately this is true. I came from a culture where we hunt animals, no longer for sustenance but its cultural. And let’s face it, no Inuk hunts for sustenance either, if not there will not be a Northern store in all communities. But we do not hunt during mating season to give the chance for the species to repopulate. Its unfortunate that there is little to no wildlife due to overhunting. And all these meat are being sold on Facebook next to the $5 baked goods. I do not understand why whales are being killed as one cannot eat the meat due to the very high mercury content and to kill it just for the fat seems so wasteful?

      • Posted by Ginger ale on

        Everything about your comment is wrong. There are alot of families that mainly rely on country food. Stating that there is little to no wildlife tells me that you don’t spend any time on the land. The meat of beluga and narwhal is very edible, they make the best jerkey or throw it on a bbq and its almost just as good as beef if not better. Just because you don’t rely on country food or don’t see anyone relying on it, doesn’t mean people don’t rely on some of the best wild meat.

      • Posted by Hunter no more on

        In Nunavik the slaughter of any animal is priority on the list of too many sloppy inexperienced hunters. Inuit always been knowledgeable about the population, and respected the sex of the species for future growth. But what we see now are those inexperienced and those that never been out, dued to parents not staying away from alcohol abuse, therefore never took the kids out on the land. Those young Bucky rang e tangs are helping deplete, even the caribou. Moose are seen more in Certain parts of Nunavik now, soon the young Bucky doo dos will help prevent that growing too

    • Posted by Hunter on

      It was the whalers from Europe and America that decimated the bowhead whale stocks.

      As you can see there was a decline in caribou population on Baffin Island and they implemented a management system that includes quotas for each community until the population rebounds to health populations. Similar management system was implemented on South Hampton Island and in only 5 years their population rebounded enough to get ride of the quotas,

      Inuit have been managing the polar bear harvest properly for the past 50 years using a proven management system.

      Some hunters, not all, a few break the unwritten rules and written rules, just like poachers down south.

      Western Society and Culture have destroyed way more marine, wetland, forest habitat making hundreds of different species go extinct….man one species that Inuit hunt that has gone extinct….just one please.

  5. Posted by monty sling on

    super shamou; about 85% of Nunavut population does not eat country food anymore (Nunavut population under 18). I think it’ about time we let some species fade from natural causes…. You eat them, will for muktak side of it, the meat and the rest is lift for wild life to consume. let the beasts flourish now…

    • Posted by James on

      Walk into 85% of Inuit’s homes and they will have country food in their freezer. You my friend live under a rock

  6. Posted by Northerner on

    Ginger ale. To say that you think I don’t go out as much is a big insult. I was brought up by real inuks. Born in caribou skin tents. I grew up eating whales, fish, bears, caribou, Ptarmigan you name it, I ate it. My work is out in the land. My office is a tent. What’s yours? General labour? Townie job? Hunt! Hunt your fill. Hunt it all. Hunt them. We’ll see what the wildlife people say soon. Be my guest. I’ll send you my sks. My 22-250. My 12 gauge. My atv. My snowmobile. My kayak.

  7. Posted by Northerner on

    Only Inuit get to hunt at risk species. It’s ok. Other countries are banned from hunting some animals. But it’s ok. Inuit can hunt anytime.

    • Posted by Hunter on

      We have exceptional wildlife management systems.

      Quotas for Polar Bears, Narwhal, Caribou on Baffin Island, Beluga in Northern Quebec, Bowhead Whales, Caribou on South Hampton Island, Musk OX all over the territory are a few examples of big game that have quota management systems.

      These quota management system have been proven to work. Nunavut harvests up 800 polar bear a year, Yes that is right up to 800 animals. If too many female are taken in a given year the quotas for that community are reduced the following years, all kills including defence kills

  8. Posted by Baffinguy on

    Its funny how certain Inuit groups will blame shipping for the depletion of whales and seals in certain parts of Nunavut, ie) northern baffin. Yet you see people up there boast about killing 10, 20 whales at a time and sale the meat for profit. Kind of a hard argument to say it’s the shipping that’s causing stress on the whales when a large number are being killed off for profit.


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